More mineral exploration slated in Yukon

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Mineral companies will more than double their exploration spending the Yukon this summer, according to government officials.

Expenditures could total $18 million Canadian (about $12 million U.S.), predicts Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang. The industry spent just $6.9 million (Canadian) last year.

The annual survey by the Yukon Chamber of Mines projects $15 million (Canadian) in hard rock exploration.

With conversations we have had with industry, and other figures that have been put out there, optimistically, it is going to be $18 million (Canadian),'' Lang said in an interview Tuesday.

I think devolution (moving federal powers to the territory on April 1) has sort of given some optimism to the mining community, and I think the world situation has had some impact.''

Hard rock exploration spending in the Yukon hit an all-time high of about $56 million (Canadian) annually in the mid-1990s amid the Finlayson exploration rush for base metal deposits. During that period, a local geologist tripped over a major emerald find there.

But the amount of money spent searching for minerals in the Yukon has been slipping ever since.

Tony Caron of Caron Diamond Drilling said he can accept $15 million (Canadian) as an estimate this year, though he cautions some companies don't have the money in their wallets yet.

I hope it reaches 20 (million) but I kind of doubt it,'' he told the Whitehorse Star. The place looks better with the change in government and all that, but there are still mining companies having trouble raising money.''

Nothing is certain until the money is spent, noted Mike Burke of the Yukon Geological Survey. But some of the work is being planned by companies with deep pockets or companies that have already raised the money, he said.

An example is True North Gems, which has announced a $2.1 million (Canadian) program to advance its emerald exploration program.

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