Yukon mine wants to sell LNG power into Yukon Energy grid

A Yukon mining company has plans to build a liquefied natural gas power plant in Burwash Landing that it says may one day feed power back into Yukon Energy's electrical grid.

A Yukon mining company has plans to build a liquefied natural gas power plant in Burwash Landing that it says may one day feed power back into Yukon Energy’s electrical grid.

Wellgreen Platinum’s senior vice-president, John Sagman, said Yukon Energy and Energy Minister Scott Kent have indicated on “numerous occasions” that they’d like the mine’s LNG plant to be built in Burwash Landing.

“Rather than put the generation plant at the mine site, we’d rather build it near the Kluane First Nation and feed the power into the Yukon grid eventually,” Sagman said during a presentation at the Yukon Geoscience Forum & Trade Show this week.

Currently, Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay are isolated from the territory’s main electricity grid and rely heavily on diesel. Their power is supplied by ATCO Electric Yukon.

But Sagman said that both Wellgreen and Yukon Energy eventually want to see a power line built from Haines Junction through Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay up to Beaver Creek, and then across to Mayo.

“And that opens up that whole territory for power,” he said, “be it hydro power, be it LNG power that feeds into the grid.”

Sagman said Wellgreen’s current plan is to build the LNG plant in Burwash Landing and construct a 40-kilometre transmission line that would connect it to the mine site. The Kluane First Nation would own and operate the plant, and would use LNG power to replace diesel in the communities.

“And then eventually, one day, (Yukon Energy’s) grid will come through and hook into our system,” he said. “And when the mine shuts down… that generation power would be right there to keep feeding into the grid.”

However, Yukon Energy has not confirmed that any such talks have taken place. Spokesperson Janet Patterson said she is not aware of any plan to extend the grid to Beaver Creek from Haines Junction. She also said Yukon Energy vice-president Michael Brandt, who was present at Sagman’s presentation, was “surprised” by some of his claims.

But Colin Asselstine, general manager of the Kluane Community Development Corporation, did confirm that discussions have at least taken place between Wellgreen and the First Nation.

“It’s been talked about for quite some time now,” he said. “Once the mine life is done, it’s a possible legacy project that’s left behind.”

Asselstine said it was possible the power plant could fully replace diesel in Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay, though he cautioned that these are very early days.

“I think it could be a good substitute for diesel in the community, as long as it’s done properly,” he said.

He also said it’s possible the First Nation could sell excess power into an expanded grid one day.

“It’s kind of in the back of people’s heads,” he said. “That’s kind of long-term thinking.”

Sagman said Wellgreen hopes to start construction on its platinum mine by 2018, and to go into production in 2020.

Wellgreen’s plans raise some questions about the Yukon government’s recently released independent power production policy, and whether it’s partly targeted toward the territory’s mines. According to the policy, Yukon’s utilities can put out calls for power and can receive unsolicited proposals for larger power projects. Natural gas is an eligible form of power for those programs.

Shane Andre, the director of the energy branch with the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told the News last week that “it would be rare that a natural gas proposal would be considered” under those programs.

But during Monday’s presentation, Kent said the unsolicited proposal program would be “of interest” to mining companies.

“As far as the natural gas piece, obviously some of the mines… would be candidates,” he later told the News. “But… that’s not to preclude other projects from going forward.”

During his speech, Brandt said several Yukon mining companies are considering LNG power for their operations, including Western Copper and Gold, Selwyn Chihong and Victoria Gold.

“The future of LNG rests with mining,” he told the audience.

But it’s unclear whether any of those mines would be able to sell power into the Yukon grid in the foreseeable future.

Western Copper and Gold president Paul West-Sells said his company does plan for the Casino mine to be powered by LNG. But he pointed out that the mine site is at least 100 kilometres from the existing grid, and said it wouldn’t make sense to build such a long transmission line.

“That’s not something that we’ve really looked at,” he said. “There’s no benefit for us to do that.”

In an email to the News, Patterson said no mining companies have approached Yukon Energy with the idea of selling LNG power into the grid.

“A lot of the mines that could potentially come on stream in the next several years are located quite a distance from the grid, so the economics of connecting them to the grid are questionable,” she wrote. “There are a couple that are closer to the grid – Victoria Gold and Copper North for example – but … we haven’t had any discussions with them.”

Contact Maura Forrest at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inside the courtroom in Whitehorse, Chief Electoral Officer Max Harvey, Vuntut Gwitchin returning officer Renee Charlie and Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Duncan open the box containing the names of the tied candidates. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Annie Blake elected as MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin after name draw

“I’m still feeling shocked that my name was drawn, I feel overwhelmed.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 case confirmed in rural Yukon community

An exposure notification has been issued for Andrea’s Restaurant in Watson Lake

Food trucks gather on Steele Street between Front and Second for the annual Street Eats Festival in Whitehorse on August 12, 2019. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News file)
May 1 could mark the start of the 2021 food truck season

Lottery for downtown sites set for April 28

Wyatt's World

Wyatt’s World for April 16, 2021.… Continue reading

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is taking on the first all-woman expedition to Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team among mountaineers heading to Kluane National Park

One team will be exploring Mt. Logan while a second all-woman team aims for Mt. Lucania summit

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Most Read