Whitehorse Daily Star

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Paul West-Sells

Rio Tinto invests millions in Casino mine project

One of the largest mining companies in the world has invested $25.6 million in the Casino project owned by the Western Copper and Gold Corp.

By Chuck Tobin on May 25, 2021

One of the largest mining companies in the world has invested $25.6 million in the Casino project owned by the Western Copper and Gold Corp.

The investment was announced last week by Paul West-Sells, president and CEO of Western Copper and Gold.

“We are pleased to welcome Rio Tinto as a strategic investor in the company,” West-Sells said in a press release.

“The investment by Rio Tinto, a leading global mining group which operates in 35 countries around the world, and whose purpose is to produce the materials essential to human progress is a strong endorsement of the Casino Project. We look forward to working with Rio Tinto to advance Casino.”

In an interview with the Star last week, the company president said the investment is not your typical investment.

It is largely to allow Rio Tinto to get a better understanding of the potential of the copper-gold deposit and the overall project, he explained.

West-Sells said some of the money will go into additional drill holes where Rio Tinto might want to confirm information about the deposit.

But the money is geared to funding Rio Tinto’s understanding of the Casino project by laying out all the information they have, such as the engineering to manage the tailings, he said.

West-Sells said the agreement calls for completion of the work in 18 months, with an option to extend the timeline by an additional 12 months.

“Casino is a world-class project and now we have a world-class investor working with us,” he said.

With the investment, Rio Tinto will own eight per cent of Western’s outstanding shares.

The investor agreement provides Rio Tinto with the rights to appoint one member to the Casino technical team and one non-voting observer to attend all meetings of Casino’s board of directors.

If Rio Tinto ups its ownership share to 12.5 per cent, it would have the right to appoint one director of the company, says the agreement.

The Casino property is located along the Yukon River, between Carmacks and Dawson City.

Western Copper spent about $4.5 million drilling the property last year with 30 to 40 employees on site, West-Sells said, adding this year’s program will be similar.

The company estimated several years ago that it would take a $2.5-billion investment to bring Casino into production.

West-Sells said Western Copper will use the proceeds for specific areas of study that will inform the company’s feasibility study, which he hopes to wrap up by the end of the year.

The Casino project has been submitted for review by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

The board has elevated the project to a full panel review, the first by the board since it was created in 2003.

West-Sells said the feasibility study will form part of the Environmental and Socio-economic Statement they plan to file with the board next year.

Bringing the Casino project into production would provide an economic boost for the territory for 50 years, he said.

The company has estimated it would mill 120,000 tonnes per day, making it the largest mine in the Yukon’s history.

By comparison, when the Faro mine was in production from 1969 to 1998, with a four-year break, it was milling 13,000 tonnes per day at its peak.

Comments (15)

Up 2 Down 5

Mick on May 31, 2021 at 1:11 pm

@ Bingo

So the human species started mining around 40,000 years ago, when does the 'responsible' part happen?
All we see in the Yukon is a company come in, pillage, declare bankruptcy and leave a poisonous mess on the land. Unreclaimed and next to ZERO royalties to the people who own the land (Yukoners)

These are finite resources and once they are gone they are gone.

Up 1 Down 3

Colbalt Cate on May 31, 2021 at 12:29 pm

@ Electric...sure some valid points however the industry will profit off of child welfare and environmental deficiencies to make a profit, for some reason people think that going electric means that all is good, when in fact it is not. To say we should source that from our own is fine but now your electric mirage goes from 40k to 90k. Then there is the issue with infrastructure, can you image what it will look like every 100k in every direction. Then what to do with the truck filled battery pack, which will cost thousands to replace. We still require fuel, and Canada has abundance of it yet are handcuffed by global optics, it's insane. At the same time our reliance aka consumption of said fossil fuels is set to increase. Doesn't it seem dysfunctional by continuing to use fossil fuels from other countries, some that don't even allow women to drive plus other odious concerns, yet Alberta and the spin off collect cerb and soon to be welfare cheques?

Up 5 Down 2

Electric on May 30, 2021 at 8:28 pm


Yes there will be an increase in mining for what you mentioned however there will be a much larger reduction in other types of resource extraction. You are only presenting one side of the equation.

Take electric cars for example, yes they require lithium to manufacture the battery. But after initial creation, you are saving probably 15 years on average of burning gasoline which has to be extracted, refined and trucked up here. There is no comparison. But even on top of that, consider that electric cars don't need engine oil, transmission fluid or RAD fluid.... so more savings for the consumer and environment there. Plus, electric cars don't have an exhaust system, transmission, fan belt, fuel filters, acid/lead battery and the list goes on. So there is no need for energy intensive manufacturing of all these parts, not to mention less cost to the consumer since these parts can never break down on you, being as they don't exist in an electric car, ha ha. As for mining laws and child labour in foreign countries, I'd say those are things we should absolutely press those countries to improve upon. Or we develop new sources in countries with better standards, like here at home.

Up 10 Down 3

Bingo on May 29, 2021 at 5:34 pm

@mick...not sure how your communicating your comments but mining is all over it. You can't use mined materials then slam mining....the idea is to mine responsibly.

Up 14 Down 3

Dan Dundas on May 29, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Let's not kid ourselves. Mining is necessary and will continue for the benefit of mankind moving forward. The key is to do it properly from an environmental perspective before, during and after. We can all point to disasters in areas with loose controls and questionable processes. Casino has an opportunity to get it right and believe me, there will be a lot of eyes on this project. Doing it right isn't easy, but it's doable. So let's just do it!!

Up 13 Down 9

Pierre on May 29, 2021 at 9:01 am

Not really to do with this article specifically but mining is set to go up 500 to 1000% for battery materials ie: lithium, carbon and colbalt..in countries that have limited to no rules, engaged in child labour and zero environmental supervision. This is what a green energy reset will cost the world, it will be catastrophic but since it's “green”, lol. And Canada is by far the most nimby country and will get a pass and consumers driving their E vehicle with their frappa lappa, non gmo, non dairy, vegan latte will be so proud.

Up 13 Down 7

Mick on May 28, 2021 at 4:43 pm

@ Bingo

Before it's yours, it's mined.
After it's mined it's yours to cleanup the mess.

Up 17 Down 9

Patti Eyre on May 28, 2021 at 3:56 pm

Colin has a bingo! I did a quick search and the path of destruction is pretty staggering. I guess Rio totally destroyed (blew up) ancient, historical caves in Australia who's use can be dated back 46,000 years and who's value I can imagine is immeasurable to the Aboriginal people who are connected to that heritage site! But the President of Rio Tinto said to the people, my bad, we will do better, and so all is good!

Up 12 Down 10

Colin Aries on May 28, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Rio Tinto have left a trail of destruction where ever they have operated. No respect for the locals or the environment. Mining needs to be done responsibly. The problem is profit is put before everything else

Up 15 Down 11

TheHammer on May 28, 2021 at 11:00 am

Rio Tinto's money was made wrecking someone's eco system. If anyone thinks we can benefit from that they need a lesson in global interdependence.

Up 21 Down 3

Yes mining must be done responsibly! on May 28, 2021 at 8:44 am

Incidentally, does anybody know how much Casino put up for financial security to Y.T.G. for this project? The reporter needs to follow up on this specific question. It is public information if you know where to look.

Up 16 Down 9

Bingo on May 27, 2021 at 4:20 pm

@patti...”before it’s yours it’s mined” truer words never spoken.

Up 12 Down 29

Patti Eyre on May 26, 2021 at 3:04 pm

I agree with Bingo, also Bingo what are your coordinates? I want to stake a few claims myself, maybe sluice up your back yard and won't need your permission either! But of course I will ask, because I am respectful!

Up 31 Down 5

BnR on May 26, 2021 at 1:56 pm

Bingos comments have merit, however the recent court case where the governments own mining engineer recommended a 12 million dollar bond and higher ups reduced that amount shows that Yukoners can’t trust our elected officials to follow procedure. It’s exactly what happened at the failed lead zinc mine up by Finlayson that we’re now using taxpayer dollars to clean up, and that was under a different set of politicians.
What would happen at Casino if politicians interfered? We’d have another Faro or worse.

Up 47 Down 5

Bingo on May 25, 2021 at 7:21 pm

I am 100% pro mining IF done properly. We have to have mining although certain groups ie..NIMBYs believe it’s better done somewhere else. Mining in THE Yukon has to be done responsibly and considering this is a huge company my thinking is 100 million in trust for a clean up should/when required. Too many pretenders have come and gone and left taxpayers to foot the bill...time for that to stop.

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