Silver mine in Yukon set to reopen

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2001

WHITEHORSE, Yukon -- A privately held company plans to reopen silver mines at Elsa, not far off the Alaska Highway between Dawson and Carmacks. The purchase of the mine's assets by Advanced Mineral Technology Inc. was approved this week in the Yukon Supreme Court.

It will require an investment of $8 million to $10 million to get the mines, closed in 1989, back into production, according to the new owner. Philip Cash of AMT told the Whitehorse Star the company will have to replace the mill, rework the water treatment systems, and set up a batch smelter. During the construction, the mine will employ well over 100 workers, he said, with a similar number needed once production resumes.

AMT secured the right to pursue the purchase last May. The former owner, United Keno Hill Mines Ltd., went bankrupt last year. The mine is about 225 miles north of Whitehorse.

''As much as possible, our labor pool is going to come from local people,'' he said. ''You know, we will probably put one of our people from the States up there, but that is it.'' There will be a camp set up to provide for workers who don't live close enough to commute, or for mining contractors and their crews who might be recruited from outside the Yukon, he said.

Mining was the backbone of the Yukon economy for decades, but many operations, including the big Faro mine near Whitehorse, shut down, leading to the departure of hundreds of residents.

''It does give us hope for the future because mining has been the economic mainstay for Elsa, Keno, Mayo and Stewart (Crossing) for many, many years,'' said Frank Taylor of Mayo, about 30 miles from the mines.

In addition to the Elsa operations, a former tungsten mine in the region is scheduled to reopen. The CanTung mine near Tungsten, southeast of Whitehorse and just across the border in the Northwest Territories, also is preparing for new production.

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