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Mining Explorers 2016: 2016 brings late season surge

Mineral explorers get boost from Goldcorp's interest in Coffee project

Mineral exploration in Yukon began 2016 much like it finished 2015... Challenging equity market conditions and cautious investors meant junior exploration companies started the season conservatively.

The industry got a boost early in the season with the mid-May announcement of Goldcorp’s ( interest in Kaminak Gold’s ( Coffee property. By the time Kaminak shareholders approved the C$520 million deal in July, companies were raising money, expanding field programs and making deals across the territory. As the year heads towards its close, we look forward to the late season concluding with more of a bang.

While much of the industry excitement has revolved around Goldcorp’s entrance, and the return of a major mining company to Yukon Territory, other advanced exploration projects have had some success as well. In January 2016, after an intense 2015 field program on its newly acquired Kudz Ze Kayah property, BMC Minerals ( announced an updated resource on the ABM deposit and the discovery of the Krakatoa deposit; combined resources of the ABM and Krakatoa deposits currently sit at 20.8 million metric tons of 6.4 percent zinc, 2.0 percent lead, 0.9 percent copper, 145 grams-per-metric-ton silver, 1.4 g/t gold, a 150 percent expansion of the resource in one season’s work. In 2016, BMC will have completed more than 15,000 meters of exploration and definition diamond drilling, while working toward completion of a prefeasibility study.

Victoria Gold ( performed an impressive amount of exploration on its Dublin Gulch property, drilling 20,000 meters on the higher grade Olive and Shamrock zones two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Eagle Gold deposit. Victoria also conducted grassroots exploration on several other properties and has been active corporately positioning themselves for construction of the fully permitted Eagle mine.

Alexco Resources ( continued exploration work on its Keno Hill property with 15,500 meters of diamond drilling on the high-grade core of the Bermingham deposit. With the price of silver looking up, Alexco is also preparing for a return to production by collaring a new portal into the recently discovered Flame & Moth deposit that is immediately adjacent to the existing mill.

Rockhaven Resources’s ( its Klaza property focused on both expanding and defining resources as well as testing existing geophysical and geochemical anomalies across the property with 8,000 meters of diamond drilling.

ATAC Resources ( concentrated on its Rackla Gold project in 2016. The explorer filed a favorable preliminary economic assessment for the Tiger deposit in the Rau Trend and completed phase-1 rotary air blast drilling and phase-2 diamond drilling on the Orion zone in the Nadaleen Trend.

At the past-producing Brewery Creek mine, Golden Predator ( was busy conducting 1,600 meters of geotechnical and metallurgical drilling near former pits in order to evaluate the remaining gold mineralization.

Banyan Gold ( plans to complete 800 meters of drilling for metallurgical testing as well as soil sampling and trenching at its Hyland Gold Project in southeast Yukon.

With the price of gold remaining strong through the summer and equity markets taking note of the Goldcorp deal, junior mining companies were able to raise funds to advance their projects, particularly gold projects. Golden Predator processed a 750-metric-ton bulk sample from the Sleeping Giant vein on its 3 Aces property early in 2016 and continued exploring the property through the year with nearly 4,000 meters of drilling planned.

Strategic Metals ( continued generative work on its extensive portfolio of Yukon properties, highlights to date include 5,000 meters of diamond drilling split between the Hartless Joe, Hopper and Mars properties.

Goldstrike Resources ( was active on its flagship Plateau Gold property, diamond drilling 1,500 meters on the Goldstack zone; successful prospecting also doubled the length of the Yellow Giant gold trend more than 50 kilometers (31 miles).

Independence Gold ( did 3,000 meters of reverse circulation drilling on its Boulevard property, which is contiguous with Goldcorp’s Coffee property. Independence also conducted rotary air blast drilling, geophysical surveying and geochemical sampling on other properties in central Yukon.

Klondike Gold ( has had a productive season exploring its Klondike Goldfields property, doubling its land position by acquiring 1,125 claims, diamond drilling 5,000 meters and conducting a 230-line kilometer ground magnetic survey.

Grassroots explorers also were active across the territory with companies staking nearly 5,000 new claims to the end of August.

The territory currently has one operating hard rock mine, Capstone Mining Corp.’s Minto copper-gold-silver mine. Production at Minto in 2016 is better than planned, and at the end of the second financial quarter on July 27, 2016, the Minto mine had produced 10,615 metric tons of copper. Mining continues in the Minto North pit, with copper grades above 2 percent and should result in a significantly higher production for the second half of the year. Underground mining is planned to extend into the third quarter, to take advantage of high-grade underground ore. Low copper prices have forced the company to consider long-term closure options and production beyond 2017 is dependent on the price of copper.

Total claims in good standing in Yukon remains over 200,000.

More than 75 projects were active across the territory in 2016 and exploration expenditures are estimated at C$60 million, while development expenditures will top C$20 million, similar to the outlay seen in 2015. Exploration activity is overwhelmingly gold-focused with 75 percent of exploration programs exploring for gold, while the remaining 25 percent of activity is split between lead, zinc, copper, nickel, silver, platinum group metals and jade.

Levels of funding for the fully-subscribed Yukon Mineral Exploration Program ( remained at C$1.4 million in 2016.

The Government of Yukon also recognizes that a successful minerals industry is dependent on high-quality geo-scientific information. Through the Yukon Geological Survey (, government continues to support the industry by generating and compiling geological data to form the foundation that enables better decision-making by industry. Bedrock mapping is a key component of this effort; projects underway this season included mapping in the Hyland map sheet in southeast Yukon, Aishihik Lake area in southwest Yukon, and the Lake LaBerge and Tay River areas in central Yukon. Other projects include a metallogenic study of the mineralizing potential of Jurassic-aged plutons in Yukon, and airborne geophysical surveys in the Livingstone placer district and Frances Lake areas.

This article was submitted by the Yukon Geological Survey, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Government of Yukon.


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