Yukon Zinc boasts of ‘stronger safety culture’ following deaths

Yukon Zinc boasts of 'stronger safety culture' following deaths Yukon Zinc says it is focusing on safety as it ramps up to full production at its Wolverine Mine in southeast Yukon.

Yukon Zinc says it is focusing on safety as it ramps up to full production at its Wolverine Mine in southeast Yukon.

The company, along with its main contractor Procon Mining and Tunnelling, pleaded not guilty in April to a barrage of occupational health and safety charges following the death of 25-year-old William Fisher in 2010.

Fisher was pronounced dead when rescue workers finally found him, after the tunnel he was working in had caved.

The mine, 180 kilometres southeast of Ross River, suspended work after the accident and the Yukon Workers’ Compensation, Health and Safety Board sent in investigators.

It found the caved-in portion of the mine had been widened to 10 metres, but it only had adequate supports for a tunnel half that size.

In February 2012, the companies’ lawyers asked the court to quash the charges, saying they were too vague to defend themselves against.

In early March, Deputy Judge Deborah Livingstone ruled that the charges should stand. The trial is set to begin November 13.

Fisher was the second worker to die at the Wolverine mine in two years. In 2009, 20-year-old Paul Wentzell died after being crushed by a Toyota Land Cruiser, after the vehicle’s emergency brake failed. Procon was found guilty of two occupational health and safety charges and fined nearly $100,000.

When Fisher died, more than 200 people were working at the Wolverine mine, which contained more than two kilometres of tunnels, some of which were more than 85 metres underground.

This week, Yukon Zinc issued a press release detailing a “stronger safety culture” at the mine, including increased, site-wide safety-management systems, safety training and reporting.

Representatives of the company did not return calls to explain details of these safety precautions before presstime.

But the rampup of safety is part of an effort to return the mine to full production of 1,700 tonnes of zinc, copper and lead per day.

In March, the mine returned to commercial production of 1,020 tonnes per day and by August has averaged about 1,400. These concentrates are hauled south along the Robert Campbell Highway to Watson Lake then down Highway 37 to a port in Stewart, B.C.

Production rates have continued to grow since a new mill was commissioned in late 2010. By the end of July, there were about 363 employees onsite, 26 per cent of whom are Yukon-based, the Vancouver-based company’s release said.

Funding hasn’t been a problem for the mine, with continued interest internationally and a recent $80-million financing agreement, according to the release.

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

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read