Canadian Mining Journal


Victoria Gold’s John McConnell on launching a mine during a pandemic at the Global Mining Symposium

Victoria Gold (TSXV: VGCX) commenced production at its Eagle heap-leach mine in the Yukon on July 1 – perhaps the only new gold mine in the world to launch in the midst of a global health crisis.

“It’s going reasonably well, but if I had my druthers, then we wouldn’t be ramping-up a new gold mine during a pandemic,” John McConnell, Victoria Gold’s president and chief executive, said during The Northern Miner’s Global Mining Symposium in November.

In an interview with Alisha Hiyate, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Mining Journal, McConnell said the company was able to keep everything on track despite the disruptions.

“We worked closely with the territorial government to ensure that we could maintain operations and put in a lot of protocols around social distancing on the job,” McConnell said. The company also switched its fly-in rotation schedule from two-weeks in/two-weeks out to four-weeks in/four-weeks out and now uses charter flights instead of scheduled flights.

The most challenging aspect was the closure of the Yukon border, which meant that anybody arriving from outside the territory had to self-isolate for two weeks in Whitehorse, McConnell said. However, a bubble was opened for the Yukon and B.C. on July 1, which helped significantly as about 35% of the company’s employees come from British Columbia. (In full operation, the mine will employ 350 to 400 people, about 25% of whom would come from First Nations communities.)

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