An aerial view of Capstone’s Minto mine. (Submitted)

Capstone not opening second open-pit mine at Yukon’s Minto site

Capstone had earlier planned to open another open-pit at Minto after work on the current one ended

Capstone Mining Corp. will not be pursuing a second open-pit mine at its Minto Mine site, marking the end to its surface-level activity about nine months earlier than previously projected.

Cindy L. Burnett, Capstone vice-president of investor relations and communications, confirmed the decision in an interview March 22.

Currently, Capstone has one open-pit mine at Minto, with a handful of other underground mining projects happening simultaneously or scheduled to get underway within a year or two. As recently as February 2018, Capstone had anticipated that work on the current open-pit mine would cease in early 2018, and that work on a second open-pit site, labeled “Ridgetop,” would start shortly after.

“We were in a position where we either had to extend to Ridgetop or not, and at the same time, what we’ve done is some infill drilling on Ridgetop to get better data on what the ore actually looked like,” Burnett said. “So that, combined with current copper prices, has caused us not to go ahead.”

The Ridgetop open-pit mine had been scheduled to be active until the beginning of 2019. No work contracts had been put in place for the Ridgetop mine.

Work on the current open-pit mine, which is expected to wrap up in the “next week or so,” is contracted to Whitehorse-based company Pelly Construction, Burnett said.

Burnett said Capstone told Pelly Construction about its decision to not pursue the Ridgetop open-pit mine March 21. The mining company will now be seeking to negotiate a contract for close-up and remediation work for the current open pit.

“We’ll be looking for another contract and it’ll be things like, ore-rehandle, stockpile movement, progressive reclamation, but not in the same kind of volume, so not with the same kind of heavy equipment or same amount of people,” she said.

The decision to not proceed with the Ridgetop open-pit does not affect Capstone’s plans to continue with underground mining projects, Burnett said, which are projected to continue until the end of 2021.

Pelly Construction did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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