Dec '10/Jan '11


Gold prices freshen exploration activity

Capstone Resource Corporation’s Minto copper mine continues to make new discoveries that expand the resources at the mine site | Photo courtesy of Government of Yukon

With gold prices climbing steadily in 2010, exploration for gold in Yukon hit levels not seen in decades. Relentless claim staking kept mining recorders’ offices busy throughout the year. Over 35,000 new hard rock claims were staked in Yukon during the first nine months of 2010, and staking continues. Gold was, by far, the most sought-after commodity at 60 per cent of total exploration expenditures, which are expected to exceed $150 million.


Two new gold districts have emerged in Yukon over the past three years: the White Gold District in the Dawson Range of West Yukon and the Selwyn Basin Gold District, which is anchored by the Rau property (over 1,300 square kilometres) in the stratigraphy of the Selwyn Basin in east-central Yukon. The White Gold District has continued to experience a staking rush subsequent to the discovery of the Golden Saddle deposit that is now owned by Kinross Gold.

Over 20 companies have acquired significant land holdings in the district. At the Rau property (ATAC Resources), the newly discovered Osiris Zone bears many of the characteristics of Carlin-style gold occurrences, a deposit style that has been sought not only in Yukon but worldwide. The similarity of the stratigraphy of the Cambrian to Devonian rocks of the Selwyn Basin to the Great Basin of Nevada has long been recognized; however, the discovery at Osiris is the first occurrence in the region that highlights the “Carlin” potential of the basin.

This discovery in the Selwyn Basin stratigraphy increases the gold potential of a vast area of eastern Yukon. Another new discovery in rocks of the Selwyn Basin that is generating excitement is the Northern Tiger Resources’ 3-Ace high-grade gold vein property in southeast Yukon.

In development

There are many other projects in Yukon that could see development decisions in the next few years. Western Copper Corporation is appealing the decision of the Yukon Water Board to deny their application for a water license for the Carmacks Copper deposit. The company has been granted the Quartz Mining License for the project. North American Tungsten Corporation has completed a positive feasibility study and submitted their project proposal for the MacTung tungsten deposit to the Yukon Environment and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Other Yukon projects that are completing feasibility studies include Victoria Gold at the Dublin Gulch project, which contains the 2.7 million ounce Eagle Zone gold deposit. Victoria Gold is installing a $5 million all-weather 200-person camp at the site during the winter of 2010.

Base metal exploration is still a significant contributor to Yukon. A $100 million investment was made in 2010 by Yunnan Chihong Zinc and Germanium Co. Ltd. to form a 50/50 joint venture corporation with Selwyn Resource Ltd. to advance development of the company’s Selwyn zinc-lead project located in eastern Yukon. The investment will fund completion of feasibility studies on the deposit. The Andrew zinc-lead deposit of Overland Resources, an Australian-based exploration company, is also undergoing feasibility studies in 2010.


Mine development expenditures in Yukon are estimated at $150 million for 2010. Alexco Resource Corp. has completed the preproduction development of the underground mine at the Bellekeno (silver-lead-zinc) deposit and begun commissioning its 400-tonne-per-day conventional flotation concentrator mill. Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine Mine (zinc-silver-gold-lead-copper) has had its production startup date pushed back to March 2011. Mine development expenditures for mill expansions continue at the Capstone Resource Corporation’s Minto copper mine as the company continues to make new discoveries that expand the resources at the mine site.

Focused on growth

With six percent of Canada’s land mass and a population of only 34,000 people, Yukon faces obvious challenges in the supply of labour to the expanding mining industry and exploration. The Yukon Mine Training Association was formed, with the central goal of training and development of a skilled workforce made up of First Nations and Yukoners, to meet the current and future needs of the mining and resource sectors.

The modern-day gold rush does not appear to be slowing down, which should lead to another excellent year for Yukon’s exploration industry. The general rise in commodity prices has led to the opening of new mines in Yukon and the re-opening of past producing deposits. The pipeline of projects entering the permitting process in Yukon or conducting feasibility studies ensures that there could be several more decisions on new mines in the next few years. W

By Mike Burke, Mineral Services Division, Yukon Geological Survey, Government of Yukon

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