The Brewery Creek mine could be operating again in 18 months.
Golden Predator Mining Corp. announced July 2 it received formal notification from the Yukon government confirming the mine’s existing quartz mining license and water license are valid, which means it can restart mining at Brewery Creek in the Dawson area, under previously assessed plans that require no further assessment or review.
“This gets us opening the mine,” Golden Predator CEO Janet Lee-Sheriff said in a July 2 interview, noting it’s about a year and a half before the mine can reopen given the work that has to go into getting it ready for production again.
While efforts had previously been made to reopen, they were lumped in with plans and approvals needed for expansion and got caught up in assessment process, never moving forward.
Lee-Sheriff explained Golden Predator opted to start this time with plans to reopen under existing licenses in order the get the mine operational again. Cash flow from that will help with future exploration and potential expansion that will go through its own assessment process as the existing mine is operating.
Prior to going to the Yukon government on the existing licenses, Lee-Sheriff said it was extremely important for Golden Predator to work with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in on the plans.
The First Nation has passed a formal resolution to support resumed mining and processing at Brewery Creek under the existing plans.
That comes after a joint advisory committee between Golden Predator and the First Nation had resumed its work in recent years.
The mine had been put into temporary closure in 2002 amid falling gold prices.
“In 2012, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Golden Predator signed a Socio Economic Accord for the Brewery Creek project and have established a strong and respectful working relationship,” Lee-Sheriff said in a statement. “We acknowledge and appreciate the collective efforts of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Yukon Government in strongly supporting the authorized restart and look forward to working together over the coming years as we submit proposed amendments to the original plan for eventual expansion of the mine.”
She said when the mine was operating under a previous owner about half of the staff was made up of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens and she’s expecting that to be about the same or more when it reopens.
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph said the First Nation is committed to agreements and efforts that are in place for Brewery Creek.
“…. we look forward to working closely with Golden Predator to ensure the operation of the project remains sustainable and ensure that important values of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in continue to be reflected through the re-establishment of the advisory committee,” she said in a statement.
It’s anticipated the mine will employ about 100 when fully operational with a 10-year lifespan anticipated for this phase. Exploration work will determine what may come in future phases.
Lee-Sheriff went on to say Golden Predator will be “aggressively increasing” its activities at Brewery Creek this summer in light of the changes. That will mean accelerating exploration and development with drilling across the 180 square kilometer property.
Along with exploration work this summer, there’s also environmental monitoring and infrastructure work that will be happening onsite by a 30-person crew.
When it was in operation under Viceroy Resource Corporation from 1996 to 2002, approximately 280,000 oz of gold was produced from the site. It’s estimated there’s approximately 850,000 oz. still to be mined, with half of that in the current licensed area and the remainder in areas that are being eyed for expansion in the future.
Lee-Sheriff said there’s evidence of gold deeper down, but work to look at that is further into the future.
“To sum up, Brewery Creek already has a sizeable open pit oxide resource of superior grade and the potential for making significant near surface additions at a very low cost,” Lee-Sheriff said.
Yukon Chamber of Mines executive director Samson Hartland said in a July 2 interview the announcement is “obviously great news” for mining in the territory, noting the work between Golden Predator and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in reflects the best practises in mining for the territory “and the future of mining as we see it.”
He also said it’s important to keep in mind there currently isn’t an operating quartz mine in the territory, though there are a number of efforts underway along with Brewery Creek.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Hartland said.
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