Minto to stop using Skagway Ore Terminal
Cruise ship port upgrades in the way of concentrate shipments North of 60 Mining News – March 17, 2023
Last updated 3/17/2023 at 5:19am
Minto Metals Corp. March 16 announced that it will not be shipping Minto Mine copper concentrate through the ore terminal in the Southeast Alaska port town of Skagway for at least the next two years.
Concentrates enriched with copper, gold, and silver produced at Minto have been shipped out of Skagway since the 2007 start of production at the Yukon mine.
The Skagway Ore Terminal, which is only about 110 miles (175 kilometers) south of the Yukon capital city of Whitehorse and 280 miles (450 kilometers) south of Minto Mine, is the closest highway-accessible deepwater port to the territory.
This nearby ore transport facility in the Southeast Alaska town has been considered a vital link between Yukon's rich mineral potential and global markets since it was originally built in 1968 to accommodate shipments from the Faro lead-zinc mine in the territory.
The Yukon government recently reached an agreement in principle with the municipality of Skagway for the long-term future use of the ore terminal.
Under the agreement, which has not been finalized, Yukon would invest more than US$17.5 million (C$24 million) into upgrades of the ore terminal. In exchange, mines in the Yukon would have preferential access to the ore terminal and ore storage areas for an initial 35-year term with the option to renew for another 15 years.
Skagway, however, is carrying out a two-year Skagway Port Redevelopment project that also includes significant work to accommodate more cruise ships to the Southeast Alaska town.
This overhaul, which also involves significant work on the ore dock, will prevent Minto from shipping concentrates through the port for the next couple of years.
"Despite Minto's best efforts to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, the town of Skagway recently came to a decision to shift the focus of its port towards cruise ships and tourism," the mining company penned in a news release.
Minto is currently in discussions for alternative shipping options, including trucking concentrates to the port at Stewart, British Columbia.
While Stewart is considered a suitable option, at roughly 800 miles (1,300 kilometers), it is a much longer haul than Skagway.
Whether being loaded into ships at Skagway or Stewart, concentrates from Minto Mine must first cross the Yukon River at Minto Landing, which is between the Yukon communities of Carmacks and Pelly Crossing.
During summer months, a barge is used to transport concentrates and supplies across the Yukon. During the winter, an ice bridge provides access over the river.
During the shoulder seasons – typically late October to mid-January and early April to early June – Minto is only accessible by air, and concentrates are stored at the site.
Minto Metals expects to have an alternate port arrangement in place by July, which would be in time for the summer concentrate haulage period.
The company says Skagway Ore Terminal could once again become an option after the port redevelopment is complete, which is expected in 2025 or 2026.