Whitehorse Daily Star

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Scott Casselman and Jeff Bond

Optimism permeates hardrock mining industry

Statistics presented to the Yukon Geoscience Forum this morning show the territory’s hardrock mining industry is continuing its rebound.

By Chuck Tobin on November 20, 2017

Statistics presented to the Yukon Geoscience Forum this morning show the territory’s hardrock mining industry is continuing its rebound.

Numbers for the placer mining industry suggest it’s another stellar year, perhaps another 10-year high.

Hardrock geologist Scott Casselman of the Yukon Geological Survey told the audience money spent on exploration is estimated at $87 million, or the highest since the boom years of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The all-time high for exploration was set in 2011, when companies sunk $300 million into looking for new deposits in the Yukon, most of it spent looking for gold.

It was the same this year, according the pie chart Casselman presented.

Of the $87 million spent, $73 million or 84 per cent of the total was spent exploring for gold properties.

Interest in lead and zinc was the second-highest, with $6.5 million spent on exploration while silver targets came in third with $5.4 million invested.

Figures presented estimated money invested in mine development shot up this year to $68 million from about $10 million last year.

The audience heard Sunday how Victoria Gold Corp. spent about $40 million this year on phase one of its construction schedule for its Eagle Gold Project north of Mayo.

Company president John McConnell told the audience on Sunday that Victoria Gold is shutting down for the winter and will fire up again in early spring, with plans to commission the open pit, heap leach operation by the end of next year.

The company plans to be in commercial production early in 2019, McConnell said.

For now, though, the Minto Mine is the only hardrock mine in production, Casselman pointed out.

He said in the first nine months of this year, the mine produced 29,374,912 pounds of copper, 22,093 ounces of gold and 140,814 ounces of silver.

Minto announced this year it will continue operating into 2020 at least, Casselman said.

Similar to the increase in dollars spent on exploration and development was a slight increase in the number of new quartz claims staked.

There were 10,308 claims staked this year, or the highest since 2012, but still a mere fraction of the heady days of 2011, when somewhere close to 120,000 hardrock claims were recorded.

For the fifth year in a row, there was a slight decline in the number of hardrock claims in good standing, though it was still sitting at 186,172.

Placer mining geologist Jeff Bond told the audience the number of ounces reported from the placer gold fields is on track to be another 10-year high, just like last year.

He said placer miners have reported a total of 67,637 crude ounces as of Nov. 7, for a total value of $87.8 million.

But there are typically ounces that have not yet been reported by this time of year, just as it was last year but the final tally for 2016 ended up was just over 69,000, he explained.

Bond said he fully expects this year’s total will exceed last year’s, and establish a new 10-year high in doing so.

There were 156 placer mining operations this year, he told the Whitehorse audience.

Bond pointed out the Indian River drainage accounted again for most of the gold produced, or about 53 per cent of the total, up from about 50 per cent last year.

Numbers presented by Bond showed the Indian River drainage has contributed about 35,000 ounces so this year, with operations on the Indian River itself producing just shy of 14,000 ounces.

Operations on Quartz Creek have produced just under 8,000 ounces of the total so far.

Miners working in the Klondike River drainage accounted for 16 per cent of total gold production, with Hunker Creek yielding just shy of 3,300 ounces and Bonanza Creek accounting for just over 2,000 ounces.

The area of the lower Stewart River and Dawson Range was the third-highest in production, followed by west Yukon and the 4,000 ounces coming out of the Sixtymile River watershed.

The Mayo and Clear Creek district combined to produce eight per cent of the total ounces to date.

Comments (8)

Up 10 Down 16

Boyd Campbell on Nov 21, 2017 at 12:54 pm

After watching this going on for the last 43 years I have these comments. Yukon- the land of transfer payments- the perfect place to leverage the prospect of business against the guilt of not pulling your own weight. The money raisers from outside have flogged this for years and it is nothing more than "White Collar crime"- hyping mining properties in the middle of nowhere to investors who haven't got a clue. Watch Victoria Gold and see who fills their pocket with money on the latest Yukon scam.

Up 9 Down 6

Politico on Nov 21, 2017 at 12:35 pm

All this under Liberal governments in Yukon and Ottawa!! Nothing but fake news.

Up 17 Down 3

truth seeker on Nov 21, 2017 at 10:00 am

Cheers to the prosperity that is around the corner for all in the Yukon!

Up 14 Down 6

Tradesman on Nov 21, 2017 at 9:53 am

Unless you work for the government! Then it's BOOM - BOOM - VACATION - BOOM - BOOM

Up 16 Down 3

ProScience Greenie on Nov 21, 2017 at 9:36 am

There's always the NDP solution to it Ginger, which is taking the boom part out of it and leaving the bust.

Up 10 Down 14

Timmeh! on Nov 20, 2017 at 11:54 pm

Good news. Without the Yukon Party in power, there is more certainty. They had a toxic relationship with First Nations and there was constantly the threat of ending up in court as a result.

Up 18 Down 2

jc on Nov 20, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Bet the tree huggers and conservationists are fuming. Trying to figure out how to put a stop to all of this. We'll hear from them soon.

Up 15 Down 23

Ginger Johnson on Nov 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

BOOM - BUST - BOOM - BUST - BOOM - BUST - .... and so it goes

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