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Posts tagged ‘Capstone Mining Corp (CS)’

Mining returns to the Yukon

September 20th, 2019

Advanced projects prepare to follow Victoria Gold into production

by Greg Klein

Advanced projects prepare to follow Victoria Gold into production

Rich geology trumps challenging geography in Yukon’s appeal to miners.
(Photo: Victoria Gold)

 

If John McConnell seemed a tad tipsy it might have been due to giddiness, not the super-sized wine goblet he brandished. Either way, celebration was in order as the president/CEO of Victoria Gold TSXV:VIT took the podium at the Denver Gold Show this week to preside over a ceremonial first doré bar at Yukon’s new Eagle operation. The event marked not only the resumption of mining in one of the world’s most fabled mining regions, but the beginning of Yukon’s largest-ever gold mine. Meanwhile other companies vie to expand the industry’s territorial presence.

The festivities took place one month ahead of schedule and within a revised budget intended to address a capex miscalculation that marked one of the low points during what McConnell called a decade of ups and downs. Expected to produce an average 200,000 gold ounces annually for 10 years, Eagle currently employs about 230 people, half of them Yukoners.

Advanced projects prepare to follow Victoria Gold into production

Minto’s suspension left Yukon without a mine for
nearly a year, but a new owner plans a Q4 restart.
(Photo: Pembridge Resources)

The territory lost its last mining operation in October, but a new owner plans to bring that one back to production by Q4 this year. Capstone Mining TSX:CS put Minto on care and maintenance as acquisition negotiations faltered, but LSE-listed Pembridge Resources closed the purchase in June. Proven and probable reserves totalling 40,000 tonnes copper, 420,000 ounces silver and 45,000 ounces gold give Minto an estimated four more years of production.

Pembridge hopes to extend that, however, noting that “Minto had successfully replaced and grown reserves by 103%, adding new discoveries each year up until 2013.” That’s when Capstone suspended Minto exploration, after buying the much larger Pinto Valley copper mine in Arizona from BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP.

The central Yukon combined open pit/underground mine began operation in 2007. Pembridge wants its new cornerstone asset to achieve annual production of about 40 million pounds copper in concentrate, along with silver-gold byproducts.

Waiting in the wings with a project comparable to Eagle, Newmont Goldcorp’s (TSX:NGT) Coffee now has a territorial environmental/socio-economic review underway. Like Eagle, this would be an open pit, heap leach operation. The 2016 feasibility study by previous operator Kaminak Gold projected 10 years of mining, averaging 202,000 gold ounces annually based on a probable reserve of 2.16 million ounces. But last year, following Goldcorp’s 2016 acquisition of Kaminak, the new owner slashed that number to 1.67 million ounces.

Goldcorp cited different standards for drill spacing, geological modelling and other criteria but expected to rebuild the reserve with an 80,000-metre infill drill program scheduled for this year. More recently, however, the merged Newmont Goldcorp has talked about divesting some assets, casting uncertainty over Coffee’s near-term agenda.

But by far the territory’s biggest proposed mine would be Western Copper and Gold’s (TSX:WRN) Casino, in west-central Yukon. A 2013 feasibility report foresaw a combined heap leach and milling operation with 22 years of annual output averaging 171 million pounds copper, 266,000 ounces gold, 1.43 million ounces silver and 15.5 million pounds molybdenum.

Advanced projects prepare to follow Victoria Gold into production

Even with a recent feasibility in hand, BMC Minerals
wants to build its Kudz Ze Kayah polymetallic reserve.
(Photo: BMC Minerals)

Although the report boldly envisioned construction beginning in 2016 and commercial production in 2020, the company currently has environmental and engineering studies underway prior to submitting an application for an environmental/socio-economic review. Capex was estimated at $2.456 billion.

Meanwhile Western has two rigs drilling a $3.3-million, 10,000-metre program, with a resource update planned for this year and, coming later, a revised feasibility that the company hopes will extend the mine life.

Operating under the stock market’s radar, privately held BMC Minerals brought its Kudz Ze Kayah polymetallic project in south-central Yukon to full feasibility last July. The report sees a $587-million capex and 20-month construction period for a combined open pit and underground operation producing an annual average of 235 million pounds zinc, 32 million pounds copper, 56 million pounds lead, 7.8 million ounces silver and 56,500 ounces gold.

BMC hopes to lengthen the nine-year mine life by adding reserves and exploring new targets beyond the two zones considered in the feasibility study.

Sharing with Coffee a White Gold district address and a progenitor in legendary prospector Shawn Ryan, White Gold TSXV:WGO holds 35 properties covering some 439,000 hectares. Last June the company released resource updates for its two most advanced deposits. Golden Saddle hosts an open pit resource of 1.01 million gold ounces indicated and 259,600 ounces inferred, along with an underground resource of 12,200 ounces indicated and 54,700 ounces inferred. The Arc deposit adds an open pit resource of 17,700 ounces indicated and 194,500 ounces inferred.

With money from Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM and Kinross Gold TSX:K, each holding 19% of White Gold, the company has a $13-million drilling, trenching and sampling campaign now targeting Golden Saddle and the new Vertigo discovery, along with other areas. Among noteworthy intercepts was 3.59 g/t gold over 68 metres starting from 73 metres at Golden Saddle. Using a method integral to Ryan’s successes, soil sampling surpassed 100,000 ppb gold at the new Titan discovery, the highest value on the company’s database of over 400,000 soil samples.

Taking advantage of a past producer with all permits in place, Golden Predator Mining TSXV:GPY last month stated it began site re-development work and “provided formal notice to the Yukon government to move the Brewery Creek mine into the production phase.” The company has also stated it plans a feasibility study before making a production decision. Located about 55 kilometres east of Dawson City, the open pit and heap leach operation produced about 279,000 gold ounces between 1996 and 2002. The company plans at least 6,000 metres of drilling this year to build on a 2014 PEA.

Reaching arctic mines by sea

September 10th, 2018

Operating in northern Canada often means creating your own transportation routes

by Greg Klein

Amid all the controversy over spending $4.5 billion of taxpayers’ money to buy a pipeline project whose $9.3-billion expansion might never go through, Ottawa managed to come up with some good, if relatively minor, infrastructure news. Rehab work will begin immediately on an idled railway connecting with a port that together linked Churchill, Manitoba, with the rest of Canada by land and the world by sea. Should all go to plan the private-public partnership would be one of just a few recent success stories in northern infrastructure.

Operating in northern Canada often means building your own infrastructure

The arctic Quebec riches of Glencore’s Raglan mine
justify an especially roundabout route from mine to market.

Denver-based owner OmniTRAX shut down Churchill’s deep-water port in 2016, blaming the demise of grain shipping through that route. The following year the company said it couldn’t afford rail repairs after a flood washed out sections of the line. Now the railway, port and an associated tank farm come under new ownership in an “historic” deal involving the Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership and the Fairfax Financial Holdings & AGT Limited Partnership.

“The consortium brings together First Nations and community ownership and support, along with significant private sector leadership and global investment capacity, and further, short line rail operation and shipping experience,” Ottawa enthused. As stakeholders heaped praise on the federal government, the source for much of the money seemed clear. But not even the purchase price, let alone details on who pays how much, have been disclosed.

Still the revitalization program, which could re-open the railway this coming winter, heightens the potential of resource projects in northern Manitoba and Nunavut’s Kivalliq region. As such, the apparent P3 success contrasts with a northern infrastructure setback to the northwest.

In April Transport Canada rejected a request to fund the bulk of a $527-million proposal to build another deep-water port at Grays Bay, Nunavut, along with a 227-kilometre year-round road leading to the territory’s former Jericho diamond mine. The Northwest Territories offered to build its own all-weather link, where a winter road now connects Jericho with three operating diamond mines in the NWT’s portion of the Lac de Gras region.

However the federal refusal prompted Nunavut to pull its support for Grays Bay. Undeterred, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association joined the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines at last month’s Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Iqaluit to argue the case for Grays Bay and other infrastructure projects. Chamber executive director Tom Hoefer said that with the exception of the NWT’s 97-kilometre Tlicho all-season road, the two territories have gone more than 40 years without government support for major projects. The last came in 1975, when Ottawa partnered with industry to build the world’s first ice‐breaking cargo ship, serving the former Nanisivik and Polaris mines in present-day Nunavut, he said.

With no power grids to our remote mines, [companies] must provide their own diesel-generated power, or wind in the case of Diavik. Being off the highway system, they must build their own roads—whether seasonal ice roads or all-weather roads. The ice road melts every year and must be rebuilt annually for $25 million…. Some of our mines must build their own seaports and all provide their own airports.—Tom Hoefer, executive director
of the NWT and Nunavut
Chamber of Mines

Hoefer compared the Slave geological province, home to deposits of precious and base metals along with rare earths and Lac de Gras diamonds, to the Abitibi. Kivalliq, he added, also offers considerable potential in addition to the regional operations of Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM.

But while mining plays an overwhelming role in the northern economy, he stressed, it’s been up to northern miners to build their own infrastructure.

Baffinland’s Mary River iron ore mine co-owners ArcelorMittal and Nunavut Iron Ore want to replace their hauling road with a 110-kilometre railway to the company’s port at Milne Inlet, where ore gets stockpiled prior to summer shipping to Europe. Now undergoing environmental review, the railway would be part of a proposal to increase extraction from four million tonnes to 6.2 million tonnes annually and finally make the mine profitable. An environmental review already recommended rejection of the increased tonnage proposal, but the final decision rests with Ottawa. (Update: On September 30, 2018, Ottawa approved the increased tonnage application for a one-year trial period.)

The rail line, if approved in its separate application, could be in operation by 2020 or 2021.

That would make it Canada’s only railway north of 60, except for a CN spur line reaching Hay River, NWT, from Alberta and a tourist excursion to Carcross, Yukon, from the Alaska Panhandle town of Skagway. (Also connected by highway to the Yukon, Skagway provides year-round deep-water port facilities for the territory, including Capstone Mining’s (TSX:CS) Minto copper mine.)

Projected for production next year, Amaruq comprises a satellite deposit for Agnico’s Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut. The company has built a 50-kilometre all-weather road linking Amaruq with Meadowbank’s processing facility and the company’s 110-kilometre all-weather road—by far the territory’s longest road—to Baker Lake. Interestingly that’s Nunavut’s only inland community but the hamlet has seasonal boat access to Chesterfield Inlet on northwestern Hudson Bay. From there, still restricted to the ice-free months, ships can reach Churchill or the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Also primed for 2019 gold production is Agnico’s Meliadine, 290 kilometres southeast of Meadowbank. The company’s 25-kilometre all-weather road connects with summer shipping facilities at Rankin Inlet, 90 klicks south of Chesterfield Inlet.

With its Doris gold operation only five kilometres from the Northwest Passage port of Roberts Bay, TMAC Resources TSX:TMR hopes to mine two more deposits on the same Hope Bay greenstone belt by 2020 and 2022 respectively.

But the most circuitous route from northern mine to market begins in arctic Quebec using trucks, ship, rail and more rail, then another ship. Glencore hauls nickel-copper concentrate about 100 kilometres by road from Raglan to Deception Bay, roughly 2,000 crow-flying kilometres from Quebec City. That’s the next destination, but by water. From there the stuff’s offloaded onto rail for transport to a Sudbury smelter, then back by rail to Quebec City again. Ships then make the trans-Atlantic crossing to Norway.

Related reading:

Fabled Klondike gateway sold to cruise ship line for US$290 million

June 7th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 7, 2018

It’s been a local fixture for decades but a company that panders to pampered argonauts will officially take over the Alaska panhandle port of Skagway. This of course was the landing point for an earlier, much hardier breed nicknamed after Jason and his buddies of Golden Fleece fame. The Klondike argonauts also sailed storm-tossed seas but, while passing through this little town seeking gold, often got fleeced themselves.

Fabled Klondike gateway sold to cruise ship line for US$290 million

From frontier hellhole to tourist mecca,
Skagway trades on its Klondike connection.
(Photo: Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Such was the case when frontier bad guy Soapy Smith and his gang ran Skagway like a criminal fiefdom. They succeeded for a while, but it was right on the docks in 1898 that Smith and vigilante Frank Reid shot and killed each other. Their mortal remains rest in a graveyard on the edge of town.

Skagway was one of two main ports of arrival for the Klondike, along with Dyea, about five kilometres northwest. The latter town led to the Chilkoot Trail, where desperate hopefuls would make something like 50 trips of up to six hours each climbing to a North West Mounted Police checkpoint to carry supplies sufficient to survive a Yukon winter.

The rival route led to the White Pass, “a hellish place even for those inured to hardship and disappointment by having survived the different hell that was Skagway,” wrote Douglas Fetherling in The Gold Crusades. Railway construction began a few months before Smith’s death, with the line reaching Whitehorse in 1900. There, the White Pass and Yukon Route transferred its goods and passengers onto riverboats towards Dawson City.

In the 1950s the WP&YR became a world innovator by introducing the concept of containerized freight handling, loading the cargo from the world’s first container ship to rail at Skagway and then truck at Whitehorse. The distinctive containers can still be seen around Skagway, serving various purposes such as garden sheds.

The WP&YR’s fortunes rose and fell with those of the mining industry, recounted Marina McCready in Gateway to Gold. Competition arrived in 1978 from a new Whitehorse-to-Skagway highway. A mining slump shut down the service in 1982, but it reopened in 1988 to offer summer sightseeing excursions. They still run 110 kilometres between the little downtown and Carcross, Yukon, passing through a corner of northwestern British Columbia.

Today “dat tourist trap Skagway,” as a character in Ken Kesey’s Sailor Song called it, features numerous restored turn-of-the-century buildings, some of them transplanted from Dyea. Part of the town comprises the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which in 1998 became an international site managed by both the U.S. and Canada.

From May to September the narrow docks host cruise ships magnificent for their stature but still dwarfed by mountains rising suddenly to the north and south.

On June 6 TWC Enterprises TSX:TWC announced an agreement to sell the WP&YR’s “complete rail, port and merchandise operations” to Carnival Corporation & plc for US$290 million. Debt estimated between $70 million and $80 million will be deducted from the price. TWC may take up to $84 million of the proceeds in Carnival shares. Expected to close by July 31, the transaction would put three docks and four cruise ship berths under a single cruise ship line.

The port also ships concentrate from Yukon’s only hardrock mining operation, the Minto copper-gold-silver mine held by Capstone Mining TSX:CS but subject to a purchase agreement with Pembridge Resources plc. Proponents of some would-be mines in B.C.’s Golden Triangle contemplate shipment through Skagway.

Yukon Liberals break Yukon Party’s 14-year grip on Yukon power

November 8th, 2016

by Greg Klein | November 7, 2016

Press time results:

  • Yukon Liberals 11 seats, 39% of popular vote
  • Yukon Party 6, 33%
  • New Democratic Party 2, 26%

The territory’s riding names evoke mining history but repeated enticements to the sector failed to keep the Yukon Party in power. On November 7 the YP’s 14 years of majority rule came to an end as the Yukon Liberals moved from third to first place, returning to government for the first time since 2002. The red surge claimed YP leader Darrell Pasloski’s Mountainview constituency.

Liberals end Yukon Party’s 14-year grip on power

Yukon’s legislative chamber gets a new seating arrangement
as the Liberals return to power. (Photo: Yukon Legislative Assembly)

The first MLA declared elected was Klondike incumbent and Liberal leader Sandy Silver. NDP leader Liz Hanson also won re-election in Whitehorse Centre.

On mining-related issues, the month-long campaign saw the YP supporting regulatory streamlining, an exploration tax credit, funding for industry groups and support for road and power infrastructure. The party also called for “Yukon-specific curriculum for geology and earth sciences, and an experiential trades program.”

The YP castigated opposition support for the federal carbon tax, “the most significant commitment that the Liberals made with respect to the mining sector.” The incumbents said it would boost residents’ costs overall, hitting the average placer mine with more than $230,000 in additional expenses.

Liberals countered that the territory fell significantly in Fraser Institute rankings of mining jurisdictions. The most recent FI Investment Attractiveness Index places Yukon 12th of 109 jurisdictions worldwide, but last in Canada. The previous year Yukon ranked sixth worldwide. In 2012 to 2013, and 2011 to 2012, the territory scored #1 globally.

Liberals end Yukon Party’s 14-year grip on power

Former teacher and placer miner
Sandy Silver becomes Yukon’s new premier. (Photo: Yukon Liberals)

Additionally, the Liberals said the YP “botched” the S-6 amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act and created regulatory uncertainty while “legal battles with First Nation governments have resulted in huge tracts of land being off limits to mining.”

Silver argued his was the only party with “a plan to work with First Nation governments to rejuvenate the mining sector.”

A former teacher who’s worked on a placer mine, Silver joined the Yukon legislature in 2011 and became Liberal leader in 2014.

The territory hosts development, exploration, prospecting and placer mining activity, not to mention reality TV shows. But commodity prices have reduced major mines to just one operation, Capstone Mining’s (TSX:CS) Minto copper-gold-silver open pit in central Yukon.

Among the more celebrated development projects is Coffee, nabbed by Goldcorp TSX:G last May in its $520-million takeout of Kaminak Gold. Goldcorp plans to revise the project’s feasibility study, conduct further community consultations and begin initial permitting studies. The company foresees initial gold production by the end of 2020.

Victoria Gold TSXV:VIT says its Eagle gold project at the Dublin Gulch property is “expected to be Yukon’s next operating gold mine.” The two-open pit proposal reached feasibility in September and has all major permits in place, the company says.

Western Copper and Gold’s (TSX:WRN) Casino project has been sent for review to the highest level of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board. The company intends to optimize the project design to address concerns including the height of the proposed tailings dam.

Yukon’s home to about 37,500 residents.