CPAWS Yukon deeply concerned about Victoria Gold’s heap leach failure

June 27, 2024


CPAWS Yukon is deeply alarmed by the recent failure of the heap leach facility at the Eagle Mine, a gold mining project owned and operated by Victoria Gold, located near Mayo on the traditional territory of the First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun.

The failure, which Victoria Gold has described as “significant,” was reported the morning of Monday, June 24, and has resulted in damage to the infrastructure of the facility, triggering a landslide in which “a portion of the failure” escaped “containment” at the facility.

CPAWS Yukon stands in solidarity with the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, who have shared their concerns over this “deeply serious incident,” and the “potentially significant and far-reaching environmental impacts” it could have on the waters, fish, and wildlife of their traditional territory in a recent press release.

We are heartened to hear that no one on site was injured, although the magnitude of the failure and potential it had to harm people is alarming. While at this time the extent of environmental damage and cyanide release from the heap leach failure is unknown, CPAWS Yukon is concerned about the potential near and long-term impacts the failure will have on the area’s land and water ecosystems.

That the slide appears to have run overtop and potentially damaged the pipe and pump system that collects gold-bearing cyanide solution at the toe of the heap leach pad and moves it to the processing plant is of particular concern. According to the mine’s April 2023 Technical Report, this system is sized to allow 2 million litres of gold-bearing cyanide solution to flow through it every hour. If this system is damaged, it begs the question of how much cyanide solution is being released into the environment, where it is going, and how much could be leaching into groundwater.

This is also not the first failure of the mine’s heap leach facility this year. According to a January 17, 2024 mine inspection report, “a slope failure occurred at the southeast area of the Heap Leach Facility (HLF),” sloughing off 14,000 tonnes of crushed ore. The slide was later found to have damaged the heap leach liner. CPAWS Yukon wonders if this should have been a warning sign about the flaws of the heap leach facility.

This incident is, at best, a highly troubling development which requires careful consideration around the appropriateness of heap leap facilities in the Yukon, including the facility which is included as part of the proposed Casino Mine project. At worst, this event could be a significant environmental problem with serious and long lasting consequences to both humans and wildlife, as well the economic future of hundreds of Eagle Mine employees, contractors and suppliers.

“Time and again industry and often the territorial government have minimized concerns about the risks that come with mining. We are told that engineering and planning will manage risk and there is nothing to worry about. This is obviously not true and we need to have honest conversations about the inability of companies and regulatory systems to prevent every catastrophic failure.”

Randi Newton, CPAWS Yukon Conservation Manager




Adil Darvesh, CPAWS Yukon Communications Manager | 867-393-8080 x9