Dec '07/Jan '08


Yukon mining and exploration overview

By Mike Burke, Yukon Geological Survey 

The Yukon mineral industry is booming. Mining has returned to the Yukon with the Minto copper-gold-silver mine of Sherwood Copper Corporation that reached commercial production on October 1. Placer Mining continues to be a steady producer of gold in the territory with production in 2007 predicted to increase slightly over 2006 production of 58,294 crude ounces of gold. And there’s lots more.

Mine development including road construction and site development has begun at the Wolverine zinc-copper-lead-silver-gold deposit of Yukon Zinc Corporation. Final development of the deposit will begin once the project financing agreement is finalized.

Exploration success at the Minto Mine has fast-tracked additional development. A Phase 2 mill expansion that is near completion will increase capacity at the operation from 1,563 to 2,400 tonnes per day.A Phase 3 expansion that would bring capacity to 3,500 tonnes per day is the subject of an independent prefeasibility study. Exploration expenditures are estimated at $140 million with over 150 exploration projects, including 25 with anticipated costs over $1 million and 90 exceeding $100,000. The number of projects that involve drilling is 66.

The Carmacks Copper Project of Western Copper Corporation completed a positive feasibility study in the spring of 2007 and has initiated the permitting process. Exploration on the project was directed at further defining and expanding the known measured and indicated oxide resource of 9.983 Mt of 1.16% Cu in addition to testing newly discovered areas of mineralization on the property. Other projects which continued mineral exploration, geotechnical, engineering and environmental studies in support of feasibility studies include Sherwood Copper’s newly discovered Area 2 deposit at the Minto mine (measured and indicated 7.6 Mt grading 1.26% Cu, 0.48 grams per tonne Au), Tagish Lake Gold’s Skukum Creek gold-silver deposit (measured and indicated 800,000 tonnes of 6.78 grams per tonne gold and 248 grams per tonne silver), North American Tungsten’s MacTung deposit (indicated and inferred 44.3 Mt grading 0.85% WO3), and Yukon-Nevada Gold’s Ketza River gold deposit (measured 1,410,000 tonnes of 3.54 grams per tonne Au, indicated 7,130,000 tonnes of 2.60 grams per tonne Au, inferred 14,580,000 tonnes of 2.25 grams per tonne Au).

Exploration has been extremely successful in expanding known deposits such as the Area 2 deposit discovered at the Minto Mine in 2006, as well as the discovery of new areas containing ore grade intersections such as Area 118 (10.7 metres grading 1.78% Cu, 0.77 grams per tonne Au) and the Airstrip (3.1 metres grading 5.75% Cu,1.77 grams per tonne Au).At the Selwyn Project of Selwyn Resources the company conducted a massive $25 million exploration program aimed at further defining and expanding the giant zinc-lead deposit (indicated 86.6 Mt grading 4.93% Zn,1.73% Pb, inferred 215.4 Mt grading 4.71% Zn, 1.48% Pb). Exploration at Selwyn is upgrading and expanding the known resources in addition to understanding the distribution of grade in the deposit and targeting higher grade resources. The highest grade intersection ever drilled at Selwyn occurred this year in the Don Valley area where DON-074 intersected 4.3 metres grading 35.97% Zn 16.01% Pb. Alexco Resource Corp produced some spectacular results from their exploration program in the Keno Hill Silver District. Alexco directed the bulk of their efforts at the Bellekeno mine and has retained SRK Consulting to produce a NI 43-101 compliant resource.Drilling intersected values up to 3.3 kilograms per tonne silver, 0.718 grams per tonne gold, 59.7% lead and 5.7% zinc over 9.64 metres in hole K07-101. Alexco explored other historical mines in the district including the Lucky Queen mine where drills intersected mineralization consisting of native silver seams,silver wire and wads,and disseminated silver sulphosalts,with minor galena and sphalerite. Hole K07-114 intersected 1.12 metres of core that assayed 17.4 kilograms per tonne silver,0.201 grams per tonne gold,6.37% lead and 1.36% zinc.

The Yukon is well known for its excellent mineral potential, wide variety of mineral deposits and commodities. Recent exploration activities have focused on copper, zinc-lead, gold, silver, tungsten, molybdenum, nickel and uranium. New discoveries have been made this year in the Yukon however the backlog in assay labs has slowed the release of this information. A complete exploration summary will be available in the new year on the Yukon Geological Survey website ( The website provides access to Yukon publications, geological data and spatial data available through the Map Gallery interactive map server.

The prospecting community and grassroots exploration programs continue to be strong with support from the Yukon Mining Incentives Program. The overall increase in mine development and all phases of mineral exploration bodes well for the future of the Yukon mining industry.

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