BMC Minerals has committed US $14 million to continue exploration and to complete a pre-feasibility study at its Kudz Ze Kayah mining project in southeast Yukon.
The company made the commitment at the end of January, shortly after announcing a new mineral discovery from its 2015 exploration season. Kudz Ze Kayah is a base metals project, with deposits of zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold.
CEO Scott Donaldson said the new discovery is about five million tonnes of ore and represents a “significant increase” from the existing mineral resource base.
The total resource base is now close to 22 million tonnes.
“We’re pretty happy with the success we’ve had in 2015,” he said, adding that the 2016 drilling program will be similar to last year’s.
Donaldson said he hopes to have a pre-feasibility study completed by the middle of the year, and plans to have a project proposal submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board by early 2017.
In a news release, the company states that “the majority of the project’s major contracts for the 2015 season were awarded to northern B.C.- and Yukon-based service providers” and that 2016 will be no different.
The Kudz Ze Kayah site is located just south of the Robert Campbell Highway, between Watson Lake and Ross River. The site is just west of the Wolverine mine, which shuttered one year ago.
The original deposit was discovered in 1994 by Cominco, which later merged with Teck Resources. BMC bought the project from Teck in January 2015.
Donaldson said he’s confident about the project’s future, despite current low commodity prices.
“The reality is that we are going through a slightly more prolonged downturn than other cycles,” he said. But because BMC isn’t planning to develop a mine for several more years, he’s not too concerned about market conditions right now.
“We’re really looking at what’s happening on the upside and trying to get all our ducks in a row on the downside,” he said. “It’s business as usual, really.”
Donaldson also said the recent agreements signed by the Yukon government and the Kaska Nation are a positive step forward.
Some of those agreements set out a process for the two parties to discuss how to implement a 2012 Yukon Court of Appeal decision. That decision found the government has a duty to consult with the Ross River Dena Council before allowing mineral exploration on its traditional territory.
Last year, the Ross River Dena Council and the Kaska Dena Council both opposed the Kudz Ze Kayah exploration drilling program because they said it “would constitute a flagrant and very serious infringement of the recognized aboriginal title and rights of the Kaska to the land in question.”
Donaldson insisted that the relationship between BMC and the Kaska is “fantastic” and that the dispute had to do with “the process that the government takes” and not with the mining company.
He said he expects the planned discussions between the government and the Kaska will help resolve those issues.
“I think it’s a completely different game now.”
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