Yukon Gearing Up For Another Gold Rush As Majors Stake Their Claims
(Kitco News) - More than 100 years after the original gold rush that put the Yukon on the map, Canada’s western territory is gearing up for what some are expecting will be another important era in the region’s gold production.
It has been almost a year since Goldcorp stepped into the Yukon, purchasing Kaminak Gold for more than $500 million. Since then two other majors have staked a claim in the territory in December. Agnico Eagle invested more than $14.5 million for a 20% stake in White Gold Corp., which has one of the largest exploration land packages in the Yukon. Finally, last month Newmont Mining announced it would spend $39.5 million to explore and develop Goldstrike’s Plateau property.
According to Yukon mining executives, the growing interest from major mining companies has created renewed excitement to develop the region’s resource and many of them are capitalizing on this newfound interest.
Paul West-Sells, president of Western Copper and Gold and president of the Yukon Mining Alliance, said the Yukon has always been an exciting place for the mining industry and the investment from three major gold producers has been a major confidence boost for the entire sector.
“It’s a big deal to have that investment and I think as a result you are going to see all our Yukon projects grow and develop,” he said.
Victoria Gold is just one of the companies that has capitalized in growing interest in the region. The company, which many sector professionals expect will have the next major gold mine in the Yukon, was able to secure a $220 million debt facility from BNP Paribas to continue the development of its Eagle Gold project.
“I think people are starting to see the value of the Yukon. They are starting to see that it is a great, safe mining jurisdiction,” said John McConnell, president and CEO of Victoria Gold.
Commenting on the major gold companies entering the territory, McConnell said anything that happens in the Yukon will be positive for his company and project as well.
Along with the continued development of Eagle Gold, Victoria is embarking on a $6.2 million exploration program of its adjacent Dublin Gulch property.
However, Victoria isn’t the only company that is opening up its purse strings again. ATAC Resources is planning to spend $10 million to continue its exploration of its Rackla Gold property, which has Carlin-type gold deposits that could rival the major deposits in Nevada’s famous gold fields.
“We are seeing more liquidity coming into the market and growing interest in junior miners, so we made a commitment to do our largest exploration program in the last four years,” said Graham Downs, president of ATAC Resources.
Downs agreed the fact that three of the largest gold producers in the world establishing a beach-head in the Yukon is a testament to the region.
“The Yukon is a great jurisdiction that has historically been underexplored,” he said. “We have certainly been fielding a lot of inbound calls from investors who are interested in what the company is doing and where it is headed.”
West-Sells, said it’s not only growing interest in major gold companies that is making the region an attractive investment, there is renewed focus on the sector from the territorial government. The government is helping to facilitate important dialogues between first nations and the mining companies and is committed to building the region’s infrastructure.
“Having strong government support has been critical for the Yukon mining sector and the development of some of these big projects by the majors is going to help push infrastructure growth,” he said.
Currently, Western Copper is going through the permitting phase as it continues to develop it Casino project, which has 9 million ounces of inferred gold resources and 5.4 billion pounds of copper.
Looking to the future, West-Sells said he thinks that in less than 10 years Victoria, Kaminak and Western Copper will all be producing and more than 1 million ounces of gold to flow out of the territory.
“That will be transformative for the Yukon,” he said.