Keno mine sold to Alexco

Alexco Resources Corp. is taking a two-pronged approach to the abandoned silver mine near Keno City. Yukon Supreme Court approved the sale of the…

Alexco Resources Corp. is taking a two-pronged approach to the abandoned silver mine near Keno City.

Yukon Supreme Court approved the sale of the assets of United Keno Hill Mines Ltd. to Alexco on Tuesday.

The Vancouver-based company pledged $10 million for cleanup and reclamation through its subsidiary, Elsa Reclamation and Development Company.

But there’s more silver in the hills surrounding Keno, and Alexco plans to find it.

“We’re exploring in the Yukon, and I’m an exploration geologist by background,” said Alexco president and CEO Clynton Nauman.

“We’ve separately entered into a contract with the Yukon government to continue with care and maintenance activities that are underway up there at the present time,” Nauman said Monday.

“But all of that is on the stabilization and cleanup side of the project.

“The flip side, of course, is exploration. That’s what makes us really excited.

“We’ve got three to four years in front of us, to get our hands around the data and understand the district, and see if we can find some additional resources.”

The Keno mine has been on the auction block twice since it shut down in 1989.

The region has 14,980 hectares of mining leases, quartz claims and Crown grants, roughly 330 kilometres north of Whitehorse.

There are many mineral occurrences and deposits, but silver is key.

Between 1941 and 1989 the region produced more than 6,150 tonnes of silver.

Alexco’s new property includes 35 mines that have produced in the past.

“Alexco is in the business of managing risk and unlocking opportunity,” said Nauman.

“We have been able to negotiate with the federal government and the Yukon government to establish an agreement whereby we would contribute a proportionate amount of money to the ultimate remediation of the district.

“That’s our business, and we will be fairly compensated for that.”

The company has several other interests in the Yukon, most notably at Brewery Creek, where it did all the remediation work and rendered the closed minesite environmentally stable.

It owns a 70-per-cent stake at McQuesten, northeast of the main Keno play.

Alexco has met more than once with the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun. The Keno property lies in its traditional territory.

The Keno sale was welcome news and a long time coming, said chief Simon Mervyn Sr.

“We’re very pleased that the property has finally taken a positive stand towards re-opening,” Mervyn said Monday.

“We look forward to further talks with Alexco and the opportunity that may flow from the sales.”

The Keno purchase will formally conclude in April.