Golden Predator Mining has sprung open the opportunity to recommence mining at the Brewery Creek gold mine 55 kilometres east of Dawson City.
The company, in conjunction with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, has issued a joint press release announcing the new development.
Golden Predator CEO Janet Lee-Sheriff said in an interview Tuesday now that the company has the green light, they’re hoping to begin production in 18 months, with construction of the mill beginning next year.
They will probably have a crew of about 30 this year instead of just a couple looking after the camp and water monitoring, she said.
Lee-Sheriff explained Golden Predator initially filed an application in 2012 to recommence mining under the existing quartz mining licence and water licence, with a proposal to expand the operation.
The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board rejected the proposal in 2013. It ruled the expansion to new ground outside the area already permitted would require a full review and new permits, she explained.
Lee-Sheriff said she spent a year combing through the paper work.
She was convinced that if Golden Predator split off the expansion and just went with what was already permitted, it could carry on where Viceroy Resource Corp. left off when it closed Brewery Creek in 2002.
Viceroy shut down the operation and put the mine into temporary closure after six years of production, with gold prices falling below US $300 an ounce.
Golden Predator purchased the mine in 2009.
Lee-Sheriff said the company received a letter from the Yukon government last Thursday.
It confirmed Golden Predator’s belief that it could legally take the property out of temporary closure and recommence mining under the existing permits.
Even before seeking government’s OK, she said, the company first sought the approval of its plan from the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. The First Nation passed a council resolution in support of the proposal, the CEO pointed out.
She said the proposal now is to get back into production while going through the permitting process for approval to expand the operation.
The company expects to have the required amendments into the assessment board this fall to begin the review process, Lee-Sheriff said.
“We have enough resources in the original plan so that we can operate and generate cash flow while we go through the permitting process.”
She said Golden Predator still has to raise an estimated $75 million to bring Brewery Creek back into production, but now there is certainty.
With the uncertainty around the question of whether the company could take the mine out of temporary closure and put it back into production, there was no way the financial markets would have touched it, Lee Sheriff said.
Brewery Creek, she insisted, is a unique asset in that it’s a turn-key operation with proven gold resources in a safe jurisdiction.
The mill was removed but the foundation is still there, she pointed out.
“That puts Brewery Creek in a class of its own.”
Lee-Sheriff said the company fully expects a large percentage of the employees at the mine will be local, with a substantial portion being citizens of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
This year’s work will focus on drilling and additional exploration, she said.
“In 2012, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Golden Predator signed a Socio-Economic Accord for the Brewery Creek project and have established a strong and respectful working relationship,” Lee-Sheriff in Tuesday’s announcement.
“Combining this with the demonstrated support of the Yukon government to resume mining activities, without re-entering the permitting process, will provide the company a clear path forward to restart the Brewery Creek mine in a timely manner that benefits our shareholders, the First Nation, the community of Dawson, and the entire Yukon.”
The announcement notes the company and the First Nation have already revived their joint advisory committee.
“Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Council remains committed to the agreements and efforts developed in the past,” said Chief Roberta Joseph.
“We look forward to working closely with Golden Predator to ensure the operation of the project remains sustainable and ensure that important values of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in continue to be reflected through the re-establishment of the advisory committee.”
In the six years of operation from 1996 to 2002, the heap leach mine produced 280,000 ounces of gold.