After 125 years Yukon’s gold rush gets bigger and bigger
(Kitco News) - People have been pulling gold out of Canada's Yukon Territory for 125 years. Yet, mining executives say that the jurisdiction's full potential remains untapped as companies continue expanding their precious metal resources and finding new significant green-field discoveries.
"The beauty of the Yukon is that even with its long history, it is still very much underexplored," said Heather Burrell, President and Managing Director at Archer Cathro, an independent geological consulting firm. The company has been a prominent explorer in the Yukon for the last five decades and has made significant discoveries, including the Coffee project, which was initially bought by Goldcorp and is now owned by Newmont.
Archer Cathro also discovered the Osiris project, which has become famous for its Carlin-style gold deposit and is being developed by ATAC Resources.
Leading the Yukon's precious metal sector is Victoria Gold, which looks to produce 200,000 ounces of gold this year and ramp up production to 250,000 ounces of gold next year.
"We are just getting started," said John McConnell, president of the junior producer, in an interview with Kitco News during the Yukon Mining Alliance's Investment Conference.
In the first quarter of 2022, Victoria Gold saw revenues of $59.5 million after selling 25,518 ounces of gold. McConnell said its free cash flow will pay down the company's debt. He added that the company expects its debt to be below $100 million by the end of the year.
The company is also spending $20 million on a new drill program to expand its resource and improve mine life. McConnel said that he is confident that the company will be able to extend production by ten years.
However, McConnell said he sees a lot more potential in the mine.
"There is still a lot of untapped potential. As we continue to explore, this mine will be able to operate for the next 30 to 40 years, long after I have retired," he said.
McConnell added Victoria Gold has the potential to grow into a mid-tier producer.
Many analysts see the Eagle mine sitting in what could be a new significant gold district. Down the road from the mine is Banyan Gold, which has seen considerable growth in its resource.
Mid-May, the Junior explorer announced an increase in its resource estimate of nearly 4 million ounces.
"There is no end in sight to the exploration potential for Banyan," Tara Christie, President and CEO of Banyan.
Christie added that she expects the company's resources to grow to six million ounces by the fall.
"I want to have a tier-one asset by the fall and I know we can get there," she said.
The company's success with the drill bit has allowed it to raise $17 million in an oversubscribed private placement. Christie said the plan is to put that money back into the ground as the company has three drills working year-round.
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Although the mining sector has struggled to attract investors in this current environment, Christie said that companies with compelling projects can raise capital.
A third company gaining attention in the area is Sitka Gold, located west of Banyan Gold and Victoria Gold.
Mike Burke, Vice President of Corporate Development at Sitka Gold, said that his company's project shows how underexplored the district is.
"There is well more than 10 million ounces of gold in the Tombstone Belt. A major should be looking very closely at this area because this will be a major gold district," he said.
Burke said that Sitka has started a 10,000-meter drill program and is looking to release a maiden resource by the end of the year.
However, Yukon's potential is best seen in the territory's newest junior explorer, Snowline Gold. The company went public in 2021 and is looking to develop its Jupiter and Valley projects, just two of seven properties it owns.
The company was spun-out from a family business run by Ron and Scott Berdahl. They are a father and son prospecting team that has spent the last three decades amassing one of the territory's largest mineral portfolios. Snowline controls around 72,000 hectares within the underexplored Selwyn Basin.
Snowline has been raising money for its 8,000 to 10,000-meter drill program. Scott Berdahl, President, and CEO of the junior explorer, said they are still trying to fully understand the property's geology.
"We have rocks that nobody has ever looked at," Berdahl said. "Even with all the history in the Yukon, there are still places nobody has been before."