Yukon minister commits to investigation into slide at Victoria Gold mine

The Yukon's energy, mines and resources minister has committed to an investigation into what caused a heap leach failure at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine.

John Streicker also said there is "potential for significant environmental impacts" from last month's incident that caused a landslide that released cyanide at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine.

Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday morning, Streicker offered few details on how the investigation would be conducted, or by who.

"Clearly the mine was not meant to fail like this," he said.

In a statement earlier this month, Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation said they also want an independent investigation and review into what they call "the region's most recent and potentially catastrophic mining failure."

Streicker said he is working with the First Nation on what that investigation will look like.

"I think it's probable that we bring in external expertise," he said.

The briefing comes after the Yukon government ordered the mining company to provide plans on how it will treat and monitor water that was contaminated as a result of the facility's failure.

The heap leach facility at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine in central Yukon.
The heap leach facility at Victoria Gold's Eagle mine in central Yukon, before last month's failure. (Victoria Gold)

Benton Foster, the director of community health programs with the Yukon government, said people should not consume water or fish immediately downstream from Haggart Creek.

A new report written by a government inspector states there's "reasonable grounds" to believe the company has violated laws that govern water use.

Last week, the territory said it had detected "elevated" levels of cyanide in a creek downstream from the mine, confirming fears that the toxic chemicals the facility held had seeped into water.

At Thursday's briefing, officials said additional samples had been taken from Haggart Creek last week and no cyanide was detected.

Water sampling and testing is ongoing and Streicker said there will continue to be regular public updates.