Golden Predator gobbles up territory’s top geologist

The Yukon government's long-serving chief geologist has been scooped up by the private sector. After 20 years of service with the Yukon Geological Survey, Mike Burke will depart at the end of the month to start work with Golden Predator.

The Yukon government’s long-serving chief geologist has been scooped up by the private sector.

After 20 years of service with the Yukon Geological Survey, Mike Burke will depart at the end of the month to start work with Golden Predator, a Vancouver-based mining junior, to serve as chief geologist at its Whitehorse office.

He ought to prove valuable to the company: Burke, 49, is a familiar face to all the big players in Yukon’s mining industry.

He knows an awful lot about the territory’s rocks – he’s visited many of the territory’s exploration projects, and he helped oversee the territory’s geological database.

Burke also presumably knows how to extract money from the government, as one of the people who helped run the Yukon Mining Incentive Program.

“I always knew I’d return to the private sector,” said Burke. “I’d rather be part of the discovery team, rather than congratulating the discovery team.

“There’s just nothing like that thrill.”

Burke began his geology career as a student in the early 1980s by poking around the Yukon for gold and tungsten with Canamax Resources. After graduating, he worked for the company’s Ketza River mine, south of Ross River.

That mine has since closed, but the surrounding property continues to be explored by the Yukon-Nevada Gold Corp.

Burke also helped discover the Sa Dena Hes lead and zinc deposit, about 40 kilometres north of Watson Lake.

He joined the government in 1990, where he served as top geologist since 1994.

Over the past five years, Burke has had an ideal perch to watch the Yukon’s current mining boom unfold. Now it’s time to get back in the game.

A mining success story requires two key ingredients, said Burke: competent management and exploration properties with potential. He sees both ingredients with Golden Predator, making his jump a “relatively easy decision.”

Burke knew he wanted to stay put in Whitehorse, and Golden Predator is “not going anywhere,” he said. “They’ve got a long-term commitment to the Yukon.”

Golden Predator has dug its claws in 11 Yukon properties. Much of this land is staked near ATAC Resources’ Rau property, northeast of Keno City.

The Rau find has sparked much excitement because of similarities between the geology found there and that of Nevada, home to many productive gold mines. Burke calls the discovery of a Nevada-style deposit the long-sought “holy grail” of Yukon exploration outfits.

But, for now, Golden Predators’ priorities are to firm up promising drill results at two other properties, with a accelerated drilling program set to resume next month.

One is at Brewery Creek, the site of an open-pit gold mine near Dawson City that operated from 1997 until 2001. The other is at Grew Creek, west of Ross River.

The company plans to drill two kilometres of ore samples this year at Brewery Creek, starting next month, with a focus on the company’s Bohemian Zone, where gold-rich intercepts were discovered last autumn. At Grew Creek, the company plans to drill 15 holes at its Carlos Zone.

Will Burke’s insider’s knowledge give his new employer a competitive edge?

“Well, I hope so,” he said with a chuckle.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.