Yukon Zinc receives a second Robert E. Leckie Award

On November 20, Yukon Zinc received a Robert E. Leckie Award for Responsible and Innovative Mining Practices

by Karen Kornelsen
two men in suits standing at a lectern

Yukon Zinc's chairman and CEO, Jing You Lu (L) accepts the company's Robert E. Leckie Award alongside Brad Cathers, Yukon's minister of energy, mines and resources. — Photo courtesy Irene Kwok

On November 20, 2012, Yukon Zinc Corporation took home its second consecutive Robert E. Leckie Award—this time for the newly created Responsible and Innovative Mining Practices Award—at the 40th Annual Geoscience Forum banquet. The award was handed out by the Yukon Government.

Mining & Exploration spoke with Yukon Zinc's chairman and CEO, Jing You Lu, to find out how the company has achieved such great success and hear about Yukon Zinc's plans for the future.

What accomplishment are you most proud of when it comes to Yukon Zinc's operations in 2012?

Our Wolverine (zinc-silver) Mine reached commercial production of 1,020 tonnes per day on average (60 per cent of 1,700 tpd designed capacity) in March of 2012, which was a significant milestone for our operation. Since then, the mine has been safely ramping up to full production and optimizing operations. We will be operating at over 80 per cent capacity by the end of 2012. 

How did it feel to win a second consecutive Robert E. Leckie Award?

We are proud to receive the Yukon Government’s Robert E. Leckie Award, as it recognizes the continued efforts made by our employees and contractors. Our company will remain committed to working closely with the Yukon Government and the Kaska First Nation communities, and we will remain focused on ensuring safe and responsible operations. 

Can you explain Yukon Zinc's biochemical water treatment system and the enlargement of a lined tailings facility—features that contributed to your winning the award?

The biochemical waste treatment system will be an integrated part of the mine’s water treatment system. It is currently a pilot program to test a patented new technology called “electro-biochemical reactor” to remove metal contaminants, notably selenium, in the water. The project is currently in the design phase. All treated water will meet stringent discharge requirements as set out in the water licence. 

Crews completed the raising of the tailings facility to its ultimate height and maximum capacity of approximately 1.4 million cubic metres. The fully lined tailings facility is built to withstand a one-in-10,000-year seismic event. 

How do these initiatives act to reduce your environmental footprint?

These initiatives will help to minimize the site’s impact on two watersheds (Wolverine and Go Creek), within which the mine is located. Ninety per cent of the mine site’s water is recycled and reused for mill processing. Our water management system minimizes the freshwater requirements from groundwater wells and reduces the volume of water requiring treatment and eventual discharge.

Yukon Zinc also conducted on-site heavy-equipment operation training, which saw six Yukon First Nation citizens receive certification. How important is it to increase the skills of the local First Nations people? How does it benefit both you and them?

Improving workplace and mining-specific skills of First Nations members is essential. Yukon Zinc prioritized hiring and retaining Kaska Nation employees during exploration, construction and now into early operations at the Wolverine Mine. This has offered employees the chance to take advantage of on-site training opportunities such as the heavy-equipment training, which has led to advancements in their careers. Yukon Zinc is very thankful for the support and partnership of the Yukon Mine Training Association and Northern Safety Network Yukon along with the commitment from the trainees to successfully deliver this training program.

In addition to employment, Yukon Zinc hosts pre-employment to mining workshops and provides Kaska scholarships three times a year to help develop a strong local workforce, which will be important as the company grows in the region.

What is Yukon Zinc looking forward to in 2013?

Our main priority is to reach and sustain full production at the Wolverine Mine in early 2013. In addition, we will be looking at opportunities to expand and explore our mineral resources, as well as to further utilize international capital markets for growth financing.

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