Whitehorse Daily Star

Twenty-four of 119 Capstone workers laid off today

After 11 years in production, the Minto Mine is shutting down,

By Chuck Tobin on October 11, 2018

After 11 years in production, the Minto Mine is shutting down, the parent company announced this morning.

Capstone Mining president Darren Pylot said early today the mine will be moving into care and maintenance mode to preserve and maximize its value.

“The team will ensure Minto can be restarted efficiently and safely once the copper and equity markets improve,” Pylot said in a statement.

There are currently 200 employees and contractors at the site. It’s expected there will be 12 workers once the transition to care and maintenance is complete by January 2019.

Capstone vice-president Cindy Burnett told the Star late this morning 24 of 119 Capstone employees were laid off today.

Burnett explained the arrangement announced last February to sell the mine for $37.5 million to Pembridge Resources, a British company, has fallen through.

That has happened because Pembridge has not been able to raise the financing to close the deal.

“Pembridge is still very much interested,” Burnett said. “If the copper markets turn around and they are able to raise the money, they are very much interested.”

Burnett said Capstone was at the point where it had to make a decision about going forward.

There is still value in the ground, she pointed out. By moving into care and maintenance, that value is preserved until market conditions improve, she emphasized.

The company noted in its press release discussions with Pembridge and other potential buyers will continue.

She said the underground mining crew under contract will gradually be reduced as the weeks go by. Blasting has ended, but the ore that remains underground will still be mucked out and brought to the surface for milling, Burnett said.

She estimated milling of the underground ore and what’s left of the stockpile of ore on surface will take about two weeks.

Burnett said the size of staff maintained by the kitchen contractor will also be reduced gradually, as numbers in camp diminish.

The care and maintenance crew will continue to fulfill the responsibilities associated with the water treatment and ongoing environmental and air monitoring, she said.

The Minto Mine has been a mainstay in the Yukon’s economy since it went into production in 2007.

In recent years, its future has been somewhat uncertain, but last year, Capstone announced mining at Minto would continue into 2022.

Earlier this year, however, the company decided it would not, after all, be pursuing the next open pit target.

The bulk of the surface mining crew and heavy equipment operators provided by Pelly Construction Ltd. of Whitehorse finished up at the mine in the spring.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 0

martin on Oct 17, 2018 at 8:27 pm

to NeilAlexGrddy: quote from Minto report: Equipment initially installed in Phase 1 was sized to handle both Phase 1 and 2 tonnages; only minor modifications to the grinding circuit were required to increase the milling rate in Phase 2 to 2,400 tpd and then in Phase 3 to 3,200 tpd, involving grate sizes inside the SAG mill and trommel screen size. Minto is currently authorized to mill ore at a rate of up to 4,200 tpd.

Authorized to mill

Up 8 Down 0

NeilAlexGeddy on Oct 15, 2018 at 4:24 pm

@muktuk
You are comparing apples and bananas.
Casino will mill 120 000 tonnes of ore per day over 25 years. Open pit with a small strip ratio. Low operating cost per lb copper.
Minto mill does 4 500 tonnes per day with limited reserves remaining. The bulk dislocated underground targets. High operating cost per lb copper.

Up 13 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Oct 15, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Same old mining venture shutting down song. Same pro or con chirping from the lofty heights. Minto is boarding up while Victoria Gold is gettin at er. The mineral industry in the Yukon is like waves on a beach, get used to it.

I'm glad the supply service sectors can keep their workers between the mining waves and provide the goods and services we all can benefit from.

Up 20 Down 3

Ilove Parks on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:13 am

If it does not sell or cannot keep operating due to the price of copper you cannot blame Sandy Silvers team.
Markets drive mining and of course it's boom and bust.

Funny we do not see a downturn in tourism and gold has held its own for years.
Hope the laid off workers find employment soon!

Up 4 Down 4

Ed Norton on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:03 pm

OK oldtime, who is up next?

Up 14 Down 14

Hugh Mungus on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:09 pm

@Matthew

Pretty weak hyperbole, you should really work on that part of your game.

Mining can be done responsibly if YG modernized royalty rates, regularly inspected mines, enforced reclamation/remediation and held adequate securities on those properties we'd be in a lot better shape.

As it stands now, a company can parachute into the Yukon, scoop off the cream on a property, declare bankruptcy and walk away leaving tax payers (you pay taxes, right?) holding the bag for cleanup.

Thing is, mining is a finite resources and once it's gone, it's gone. I guess we could get into the bamboo bike business then, sounds lucrative.

Up 14 Down 3

muktuk on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Recognizing differences in the inferred/probable deposit size, and mineral reserves (i.e. associated metals such as gold, silver and molybdenum), given Minto’s copper ore grade was at 1.37% (in 2017) this news doesn’t bode well for Casino’s 0.2% copper grading.

Up 34 Down 3

ProScience Greenie on Oct 12, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Best wishes to all those laid off. Hope you all can get back in the saddle as quick as possible.

Up 15 Down 10

Old timer on Oct 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm

This will help reduce the housing crisis in Whitehorse. Ha!
Sandy silver will find away to put a positive spin on this closure. They say 3 strikes and you are out..hmmm
1, Acceptence of the carbon tax
2. Give Robin Hood and his band of merry men a raise...
3, Minto closing...

BATTER UP!

Up 34 Down 7

Matthew on Oct 11, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Yes Hugh Mungus......we should all make a living by riding around on bamboo bicycles selling dirt and organic cotton candy to one another.

Up 3 Down 26

BnR on Oct 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm

C'mon folks, move to the Yukon, lots of GREAT mining jobs!!!
Buy a house, buy a new truck!

Up 23 Down 43

Hugh Mungus on Oct 11, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Oh good, another mine for taxpayers to wear the burden of reclamation.

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