Wolverine Mine achieves full design capacity

Yukon Zinc's Wolverine Mine reached full design capacity in the first quarter of 2013 with a rate of 1,700 tonnes per day

by Karen Kornelsen

The Wolverine Mine in southeastern Yukon has reached a major milestone. The high-grade zinc-silver-copper-lead-gold mine, operated by Yukon Zinc Corp., reached its full design capacity rate of 1,700 tonnes per day in the first quarter of 2013. This is great news for the company, which has achieved a lot of success over the last few years.

In 2011 and 2012, Yukon Zinc received the Yukon Government’s Robert E. Leckie Award for applying innovative and responsible mining practices and conservation technologies. As well, Yukon Zinc continues to work closely with the Kaska First Nation to ensure that social, environmental, economic and cultural values are achieved. Yukon Zinc’s Kaska scholarships have provided over $100,000 towards the education and skills development of 42 Kaska members. Local Yukon employment and purchasing are priorities for Yukon Zinc, and in 2012, the company utilized more than 85 Yukon-based or -affiliated companies and suppliers.

In March 2013, the underground mine advanced an average of 25 metres per day and the mill surpassed design capacity and processed 60,904 tonnes of ore during the month—both achievements were records at the mine site.

As of April 30, 2013, there were 365-plus staff employed at the Wolverine Mine (with Yukon Zinc employees and contractors) and nearly 25 per cent of those are from Yukon and 18 per cent are First Nations.

Mining & Exploration caught up with Jing You Lu, Yukon Zinc’s chairman and CEO, to find out how he feels about this milestone and how the company has achieved such great success at the Wolverine Mine.

How does it feel to have reached full design capacity at the Wolverine Mine?

We feel that reaching full design capacity at Wolverine Mine is important for Yukon Zinc because we have met our goal of taking this project from advanced exploration through development into full operations. As an emerging mining company, it was vital to reach this level and it's key to maintain consistent output to support the growth of our company.

To what factors do you owe this success?

Yukon Zinc would like to express our appreciation to everyone who has assisted in bringing this project to full design capacity. We have really benefited from many committed employees, contractors and suppliers, along with positive relationships with governments and local communities including the Kaska First Nation and our supportive shareholders.

The Wolverine Mine has continued to achieve an above-average safety performance. Can you tell me specifically how you have done so?

Yukon Zinc aims to be proactive in providing ongoing safety and job-specific training for employees—such as first aid, mine rescue and equipment operations—to increase their safety awareness and responsibility. Employees are encouraged to bring forward safety concerns and risk-prevention ideas, and this open dialogue has helped build a stronger and more positive safety culture that has led to a reduction in injuries. Another focus is on standardizing site reporting, and one initiative is using a Safety Action Registry to help ensure added diligence towards completing corrective actions.

What do you look forward to now in the coming months at the Wolverine Mine?

Our team will remain focused on safely maintaining full output while continuing to improve head grades, recoveries and overall cost and operational efficiencies. We are recruiting motivated personnel to join our team at Wolverine and are also working closely with Yukon communities and the Kaska First Nation to increase local employment success at the mine.

What are you most proud of personally when it comes to the Wolverine Mine and its success over the last few years?

I am proud of being part of the team that has successfully taken a Canadian-based, Chinese-owned mine into full production. From my knowledge, I don’t believe it has been achieved in North America before. The business climate towards responsible mining development in Yukon and Canada has been very positive and we look forward to future growth opportunities for Yukon Zinc. 

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