Kenyon spearheads $40,000 China junket

The Yukon's mining industry is increasingly looking towards China to raise money for exploration projects, said an official with the Economic Development Department.

The Yukon’s mining industry is increasingly looking towards China to raise money for exploration projects, said an official with the Economic Development Department.

Capital markets in the US have been severely weakened by that country’s major recession this year, said Denny Kobayashi, director of business and industry development.

And with China aggressively looking to invest in mineral holdings, North American mines are looking to that country for funds.

“It was hard to raise money in the capital markets, and so we need to diversify our sources,” said Kobayashi.

Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon and his entourage were at a major Chinese mining exposition in Tianjin this week.

The nine-person junket, a joint trip between the Economic Development and Energy, Mines and Resources departments, is Kenyon’s sixth trip to China in five years.

The initiative costs around $40,000, said Kobayashi, but Kenyon’s presence is essential at wooing the Chinese government.

China’s major mining investment companies are state-owned and receive directions on where to invest from Beijing, said Kobayashi.

Because of that, the first gatekeepers in the Chinese investment market are always politicians, he said, and Kenyon’s role is typically to network between them and mining companies with properties in the Yukon.

“The minister is how we get through the door in a lot of cases,” said Kobayashi. “It’s not business-to-business, like in the US.”

Selwyn Resources, Western Copper, BC Gold, Overland Resources, Tintina Mines, Victoria Gold and Largo Resources Limited are all sending delegates to the China Mining Congress and Expo as well.

China has already made an $87-million investment in the Wolverine mine outside of Ross River.

And just last month, China Mining Resources Group Limited put down $7 million for shares in Selwyn Resources, which owns a major lead-zinc property at Howard’s Pass in southeast Yukon.

China Mining now has a 14 per cent stake in Selwyn.

“There’s some other small investments, and in some other cases they are buying shares,” said Kobayashi.

Chinese companies are negotiating investments in some Yukon gold properties, he said.

“They’re currently in negotiations with a number of mines here,” he said. “As you can appreciate, those negotiations are sensitive.”

China’s interest in precious metals like gold is one side of its massive foreign direct-investment empire, said Kobayashi.

“(The interest in gold) is simply an investment like the money market,” he said.

China is also interested in base metals to ensure it has the commodities it needs to keep growing.

That’s where copper mines in the Yukon come in.

“It’s a wise strategic move; ‘let’s be more vertical, let’s get into some production to support our economy,’” said Kobayashi.

China boosted copper prices this year after its economic stimulus plan revved up copper-intensive projects like electricity infrastructure.

The Yukon has been courting China since 2004 as part of its Asian Investment Strategy, which also targets Korea and Japan as potential investment markets.

The Yukon government’s role is increasingly shifting from economic development to providing geological expertise on projects in the territory, hence the presence of officials from Energy, Mines and Resources on the trip, said Kobayashi.

A 12-person delegation of private and state-owned mining companies from China visited Whitehorse and met with local mining companies in early August.

At the time, First Nation chiefs voiced frustration at being excluded from the Yukon government’s international mining outreach.

But the government is slowly bringing First Nations on board, said Kobayashi.

Stephen Buyck, a First Nation liaison, is travelling with Kenyon, he said. It’s the first time this has happened.

Buyck will try to figure out what kind of role First Nation chiefs could have the next time the Yukon goes shopping for investment.

Kenyon’s trip is part of a larger national focus on garnering Chinese money for mining projects. The federal Natural Resources Department is organizing a forum during the trip with various provincial officials.

Kenyon will also sign a province-territory sister agreement with Shaanxi province in Northeastern China, said Kobayashi.

The agreement will allow for future partnerships in the ore-rich province, he said.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read