Lots of projects, no more electricity
March 29, 2013
The Yukon has a number of advanced mining projects on the cusp of moving forward. Yet it’s isolated hydro-electric grid is tapped out. If you want to build a mine—expect to produce your own energy.
Yukon Energy (YEC)has the capacity to generate 133 megawatts of power. Ninety two megawatts of that are provided by our hydro facilities (40 megawatts at Whitehorse, 37 megawatts at Aishihik Lake and 15 megawatts at Mayo) and 39 megawatts by diesel generations, which we currently only use as back-up.
The Yukon projects that seem probable in the 5 year time horizon:
- Victoria Gold’s Eagle project near Mayo. Construction has just started and will be complete by 2015. This project will use up about 10 megawatts of power, the last of the winter surplus energy. YEC will have to start burning diesel in winter when Eagle opens.
- Western Copper and Gold’s Casino project in west-central Yukon. This is a large scale project that could use 40 megawatts of power—as much as the City of Whitehorse. Casino could be in production by 2017.
- Alexco’s silver mines at Keno. Alexco already operates the small Bellekeno in the community of Keno. The company has plans to bring additional small mines into operation over the next 5 years. This year the Lucky Queen and Onek mines are expected to start production.
- North American Tungsten’s MacTung deposit is in the advanced permitting stage.
- Prophecy Platinum’s Wellgreen project. This $900M project would be off the grid. It would require 37 MW of power. Prophecy is aiming for a 2019 production start-up.
- Copper North’s Carmack copper mine project is small with a $130 M capital cost. The company has an agreement with YEC to tap into the Yukon hydro grid to meet its <10 MW power consumption demand. Construction could begin this year.
- Selwyn’s lead-zinc project on near the NWT border is one of the largest undeveloped deposits in the world. The company recently sold out to Chinese interests. It is likely more than 5 years from construction.
Yukon Energy has been aggressive in bringing new mining companies onto the grid, but slow in developing additional power to meet anticipated demand for electricity. The planning process for new hydro projects is both expensive and lengthy. YEC is under public pressure to keep rates low but does not face the consequences of inadequate long term supply. The regulators/politicians should address the need for additional hydro-electric energy.
- b)Mike Niehuser, "Alexco's Keno Hill:Yukon's Primary Silver Producer", The Prospector Jan-Feb-2013. pp. 20-21.