By Yukon Geological Survey, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Government of Yukon
Yukon mineral exploration activity dipped slightly in 2019. Explo- ration expenditures were just over C$100 million, compared to C$120 million in 2018. Development expenditures are estimated at C$240 million, primarily for the development of Victoria Gold Corp.’s Eagle Mine (C$183 million), and, to a lesser extent the ad- vancement of Newmont Goldcorp’s Coffee gold project and the re-opening of the Minto gold-copper-silver mine by Pembridge Resources.
The number of active exploration projects dropped significantly from 154 in 2018 to 67 in 2019. In part, this reflects the continuing tight equity markets. Eighteen of the 67 projects spent more than C$1 million, while 43 projects spent less than C$500,000. The majority of smaller projects received Yukon Mineral Exploration Program (YMEP) grant funding. YMEP funds were distributed to 32 hard rock and 18 placer exploration projects. In the Yukon, 68 per cent of all projects target gold. The remainder of projects focused on exploring for lead-zinc, copper, silver, or nickel-PGEs, and to a lesser extent, tin, cobalt, or vanadium.
Mining and development
In October 2018, Capstone Mining Corp. suspended mining activity at the Minto copper-gold-silver mine after a tentative deal with Pembridge Resources plc. fell through. However, negotiations through the winter and spring proved fruitful and the purchase was finalized in June 2019. Pembridge completed the first underground blast at Minto East in early October and milling operations were up and running by the end of the month.
Victoria Gold Corp. completed development of the Eagle gold deposit on its Dublin Gulch property after 26 months of construction (Figure 1), and the first gold pour was held in September 2019. The company plans to produce 200,000 ounces of gold per year from the open pit/heap leach operation. The reserve is 2.7 million ounces of gold and the mine life is +10 years. The company continued to explore the property with trenching and diamond drilling (nine holes, 1,617 metres) in 2019.
Newmont Goldcorp submitted its application for the Coffee gold mine to the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board (YESAB) in the spring of 2017. The 2.16-million-ounce (proven & probable reserve) gold deposit is envisioned as an open pit/heap leach operation. The company is working to update the feasibility study while they await a mine permit. In 2019, the company spent C$30 million on exploration to upgrade the resource and define additional oxide resources. Drill results have not yet been released.
Alexco Resources Ltd. released the results of a pre-feasibility study for its Bermingham and Flame & Moth deposits in a technical report in May 2019. The report was based on the development of four deposits in the Keno Hill silver district: Bermingham, Flame & Moth, Bellekeno, and Lucky Queen, and envisioned an eight-year mine life producing 1.18 Every job is unique. With class-leading cycle times, precision control and outstanding efficiency of Doosan crawler excavators, you’ll stay productive no matter what. Get a closer look. Stop by and visit us today. 103 Kam Lake Road Yellowknife, NT 867-766-6025 www.ronsauto.ca Doosan® and the Doosan logo are registered trademarks of Doosan Corp. in the United States and various other countries around the world. 18-D015 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 805 g/t Ag, 2.98 per cent Pb, 4.13 per cent Zn, and 0.34 g/t Au. A new resource for the district, calculated in March 2019, identified 98.3 million ounces of contained silver. Alexco continued exploration in the district with 5,100 metres of diamond drilling at Bermingham targeting the Footwall Vein and the Bear Vein.
BMC Minerals Ltd., a private company, submitted an application to YESAB to develop the ABM deposit in March 2017. The project was moved to the screening stage of the process in January 2018 and draft screening report stage in July 2019. Also in July, BMC released a positive feasibility report for the project with a prob- able mineral reserve of 15.7 Mt grading 5.8 per cent Zn, 1.7 per cent Pb, 0.9 per cent Cu, 138 g/t Ag and 1.3 g/t Au. The operation will be a majority open pit (89 per cent) with minor underground (11 per cent) mine, processing two-million tonnes per year with a nine-year mine life. Pre-production capital costs are estimated at C$381 million.
Western Copper and Gold Corporation continues to advance its Casino porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum project in western Yukon. Drilling in 2019 (72 diamond drill holes, 13,592 metres) intersected one of the highest-grade intercepts on the deposit to date: 55.1 g/t Au over 2.97 metres in hole DH19-21. The mine was originally submitted for environmental assessment in January 2014 and was bumped up to the panel review process, the highest level of environ- mental and socio-economic assessment under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, in February 2018. The company is preparing the necessary documentation to initiate the panel review process.
Golden Predator Mining Corp. was as- signed the historic quartz mining license and water license for the Brewery Creek gold mine in July. With these licenses, the company is authorized to restart mining activities that follow the previously assessed mine plans without further assessment and review. There is slightly more than two years remaining on each of the licenses. In advance of an anticipated development season in 2020, the company carried out a large exploration and development program involving drilling, infrastructure assessment, camp expansion, review of the previous mine plan, and assessment of reprocessing of the historic heap leach pad.
Significant exploration projects – precious metals
Atac Resources Ltd. received a positive recommendation from YESAB for a 65-kilometre access road to advance its Tiger gold deposit toward development (Figure 2). However, as part of the approval pro- cess, the Yukon Government and First Nation of the Na-cho Nyäk Dun agreed to a planning process for the Beaver River watershed within which the road would be constructed. The planning commission is hoping to complete the land use plan by November 2020. The 490,000-ounce, highgrade Tiger Deposit lies at the western end of Atac’s extensive Rackla Gold Belt claim block within an area called the Rau Trend. Atac continued to explore in 2019 with sampling, mapping, drilling and ground IP, and magnetic geophysical surveys.
White Gold Corp. filed a new mineral resource estimate for the Golden Saddle and Arc deposits on the White Gold prop- erty in 2019: 14.33 million tonnes grading 2.26 g/t Au (indicated) and 10.696 million tonnes grading 1.48 g/t Au (inferred). The company’s exploration program was designed to expand Golden Saddle and Arc’s known resources, follow up on the 2018 discovery of the Vertigo zone at the JP Ross property, and to prove up further resources at the VG Deposit. In addition to a planned 17,000-metre diamond drill- ing program, the company performed soil sampling, prospecting, GT Probe sampling, trenching, and RAB/RC drilling on a number of their other properties in the region (Figure 3). Several new high- grade gold trends were identified within 10 kilometres of the Vertigo discovery. Drill highlights of this year’s program include 3.59 g/t Au over 68.0 metres at Golden Saddle and 2.10 g/t Au over 31.73 metres at the newly discovered Ryan’s Surprise zone, two kilometres west of Golden Saddle.
Rockhaven Resources Ltd. carried out a late season diamond drilling program at its epithermal gold-silver Klaza property, including definition drilling and drilling adjacent to the area of the current mineral re- source estimate (5,750 metres in 33 holes). Results from this program are pending.