'Heap leach failure' leads to slide at Yukon's Eagle gold mine, no reported injuries

A slide after the failure of a heap leach pad at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine has halted operations at the site in central Yukon.

In a news release on Monday, Victoria Gold confirmed that operations have been temporarily suspended while the situation is assessed.

"At this early stage, it can be confirmed that there has been some damage to infrastructure and a portion of the failure has left containment," the release said.

"There have been no injuries to personnel associated with the incident. The company will provide further information as it becomes available."

Chief Dawna Hope of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation told CBC News her First Nation was notified of the "significant" slide at the mine site early Monday. The mine sits on the First Nation's traditional territory.

John Thompson, a spokesperson for the Yukon government, also told CBC News in an email earlier Monday afternoon that Victoria Gold had reported a "heap leach failure" at the mine. He said investigations were underway.

The heap leach facility at the mine site uses a cyanide solution to percolate through ore, stacked in 10-metre layers, to dissolve the gold. The company's website say approximately a million tonnes of ore is processed each month by that method.

The Eagle Mine employs about 500 people as well as additional contractors and consultants, "which makes Victoria Gold a significant economic contributor to the local communities and the Yukon," according to the company's website.

The heap leach facility at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine in Yukon, as pictured on the company's website.
The heap leach facility at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine, as pictured on the company's website. (Victoria Gold)

Thompson said natural resources officers will be investigating the incident.

The Yukon Workers' Safety and Compensation Board said Monday that it was also investigating. The board also confirmed that the heap leach failure "led to a material slide," and said there were no reported injuries.

Hope said her First Nation was also responding.

"We have our technical crew out there, environmental monitors to be our eyes and ears on the land, and we're just waiting for more updates," she said.

"We're concerned about the environment and the water of course, but we're very happy that there was no injuries."

The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization has also put a halt on trading of Victoria Gold Corp. shares.