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First Nation Calls for Halt to Yukon Mining Activities After Eagle Incident

The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation is demanding an immediate cessation of all mining operations on its traditional lands in Yukon after a landslide at Victoria Gold's (TSXV:VGCX,OTC Pink:VITFF) Eagle mine last week.

In a statement released on Wednesday (July 3), the First Nation called for an independent investigation and review of the incident, labeling it "the region's most recent and potentially catastrophic mining failure."

Chief Dawna Hope emphasized the need for sustainable development and responsible mining practices, highlighting the priority of protecting the integrity of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun's lands, people and ecosystems.

The failure of the heap leach pad at Eagle, which caused the landslide, led to substantial damage to infrastructure and the release of cyanide into the environment, raising environmental concerns.

At a media briefing on Thursday (July 4), John Streicker, the territory's energy, mines and resources minister, said testing from the mine site shows high levels of cyanide, while four water samples taken from areas around Eagle are positive for cyanide, but at low levels. Levels at Haggart Creek could be substantial enough to affect fish.

In a press release that same day, Victoria Gold said it hasn't detected cyanide in any surface water samples taken from various points located downstream of Eagle. The company further explained:

"With respect to environmental mitigation, within hours of the incident a pumping system was established to return water from the HLF material to lined containment ponds. Diversion systems have also been installed for the management of both non-contact and contact water and material. To date, continued environmental surface water quality sampling at multiple points downstream of the property has not detected any cyanide."

Victoria Gold promised to release more information by the end of next week.

For its part, the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun has called for the implementation of a land-use plan that would limit development and enforce rigorous oversight of mining and industrial operations on its territory. In the meantime, Hope stressed that the community is exploring all available remedies to ensure that the environmental catastrophe is addressed.

“We will pursue every available avenue, including legal options, to protect and preserve our rights and to ensure that this environmental catastrophe is addressed and the lands and waters of our Territory are safe for the fish, wildlife, and people that have relied on them for generations,” she said in the First Nation's release.

In a Wednesday interview with CBC, Streicker confirmed that surface water at the landslide site is now contained. However, he added that the amount of material that escaped during the slide and the exact cause of the slide are still unknown. He believes a preemptive approach to avoid future similar incidents should be the topmost priority.

"I'm so glad that people didn't die. But yeah, we need to figure out what happened in the fullness of time so that we can make sure that we're not putting Yukoners and workers at risk," he commented.

Shares of Victoria Gold remain depressed, down close to 90 percent since the incident.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Giann Liguid, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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