Goldcorp moving ahead with Coffee Gold mine project near Dawson City
Company submitted 19,000-page proposal for gold mine to Yukon environmental assessment board
A Yukon gold mine project that's attracted national attention is gearing up now that thousands of planning documents have been submitted to Yukon's environmental assessment board for public scrutiny.
Goldcorp Inc., one of the world's largest gold producers, has filed 19,000 documents on the Coffee Gold mine to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.
Goldcorp filed the documents in March, but they just became public last week.
The Coffee Gold mine — set for 130 kilometres south of Dawson City — is expected to be a relatively small, short-term mine projected to produce about 200,000 ounces of gold per year for about 10 years.
But the timeline could change as the company continues to explore its claims in the area, according to Buddy Crill, the general manager of the project.
Jobs, business opportunities top of mind
Crill was at the Dawson City Gold show over the weekend to take questions from the public.
He said the most common questions were about jobs and business opportunities the mine will offer.
The mine would hire around 400 people, but Crill said that could change depending on how much automated equipment is used. With the start of production at the mine still four years away, he said it's too early to start hiring.
There were several questions about how the mine will affect the local environment.
"One of the big areas of concern or questions up here is around the road," Crill said.
The project requires 37 kilometres of new road and will cross both the Stewart and Yukon Rivers — by barge in summer and ice bridges in winter. The route will begin on the Hunker Creek Road just outside Dawson City and end at the mine site's airstrip 214 kilometres away.
"There's people concerned about those aspects and what's going to be done to protect the environment," Crill said.
The road will be used mainly for moving freight and fuel. Employees will generally fly in and out on charter flights.
Conservation society, First Nation paying close attention
Lewis Rifkind with the Yukon Conservation Society said the road will get close scrutiny along with plans for the mining byproducts and waste, the operation of the cyanide heap leaching pad where the gold is extracted, energy generation and water use.
With more mines potentially opening in the same area, now is the time to think about cumulative effects, Rifkind said.
"What does this mean for future land use planning in the area? What does this mean for the impact on local caribou herds, moose habitats and fisheries?" he asked.
Roberta Joseph, the chief of the Dawson City based Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, said the First Nation will be reviewing the proposal.
She said the First Nation and Goldcorp are still getting to know each other, but "have a mutual respect for each other's interests."
Dawson City expects positive impacts
Though the mine site is 130 kilometres away from Dawson City, it's still an opportunity for the town, explained Mayor Wayne Potoroka.
"We know there will be some impacts on our town, positive ones," he said. "We're a mining community. We understand mining culture."
Dawson City, however, has been dealing with a chronic housing shortage, especially when the population grows during the busy summer tourism months.
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Potoroka said the community is responding with new construction, but the possibility of a mining boom will mean more demand.
"It is a nice pointy stick in the behind to get us to do more work," he said.