Victoria Gold Corp. officially breaks ground Friday at the site of its Eagle Gold mine north of Mayo, Yukon.

Company president John McConnell said construction has already begun, but the company thought a ceremony with Premier Sandy Silver and people involved in the project in attendence was in order.

Victoria Gold acquired the property about 80 kilometres north of Mayo in 2009, said McConnell.

"That's eight years of plugging away," he said.

John McConnell

The president of Victoria Gold, John McConnell, says local hiring is a priority. (Victoria Gold)

"The permitting process was five years, getting the baseline infrastructure was a couple of years, now... because of capital markets it's taken a little while to get the financing together," said McConnell.

The cost of building the mine is $400 million, he said, with most of that secured.

"We've certainly got enough to get well down the track," McConnell said.

The open pit mine will employ about 400 people. McConnell said it will process about 26,000 tonnes of ore per day and another 26,000 tonnes of waste rock per day.

Eagle Gold deposit

Victoria Gold's Eagle Gold deposit is in central Yukon about 80 kilometres northeast of Mayo. (YESAB)

That dwarfs any other open pit mine in the Yukon with the long-closed lead-zinc mine at Faro being the next highest at less than 10,000 tonnes of material per day, he said.

The life of the mine is expected to be 10 to 20 years. The company plans to tap into Yukon Energy's hydro-power grid by building a 35-kilometre connector line.

Lewis Rifkind with the Yukon Conservation Society said one of its concerns would be the mine's use of a heap leach pad. Crushed ore will be stacked on the pad and then cyanide dripped through the stack to leach out the gold.

North-Lewis-Rifkind-Yukon-Conservation-Society

Lewis Rifkind of the Yukon Conservation Society. (Dave Croft/CBC)

But, Rifkind said the technology has been used at other mines in Alaska and Yukon.

"As long as the right monitoring is done, the environmental impacts can be mitigated and controlled," he said.

The company is committed to local hires, said McConnell.

"Anybody who wants to work at the mine, there will be a place for them."

Eagle Gold

The maintenance shop at the Eagle Gold mine site. (Victoria Gold)

McConnell said Yukon contractors are routinely hired by Victoria Gold with Pelly Construction of Whitehorse being the primary contractor on-site. 

The Nacho Nyäk Dun Development Corporation, owned by the Nacho Nyäk Dun First Nation, also has contracts at the mine, as well as various agreements with the company to provide training and scholarships.

With files from Mike Rudyk