Mineral exploration spending higher than expected

Mineral exploration spending in the Yukon has declined slightly this year, according to new figures.

Mineral exploration spending in the Yukon has declined slightly this year, according to new figures.

Natural Resources Canada is estimating exploration spending in the territory at $82.6 million this year, down from $92.2 million in 2015.

Exploration spending in the Yukon has declined since 2014.

The Yukon government has also released its own estimates, which peg exploration spending at $61 million this year on a total of 65 projects. That’s a slight decline from $65 million last year and a dramatic drop from a $300-million peak in 2011. The majority of this year’s spending was for gold.

Yukon government figures are typically lower than Ottawa’s, which include some additional expenditures that the Yukon doesn’t count.

But the $61-million estimate is more than the government was expecting last spring, when it predicted just $38 million in exploration spending for the year.

Sue Thomas, a spokesperson for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, said part of that jump is related to Goldcorp’s purchase of the Coffee gold project outside of Dawson City.

She said the sale led to a spike in exploration in the area around the Coffee site. “It bumped up interest.”

Other major players were BMC Minerals, which spent about US $14 million at its Kudz Ze Kayah site, and Victoria Gold, which spent about $3.6 million near its shovel-ready Eagle Gold project.

The Yukon government also estimates a total of $22 million in development spending at Goldcorp’s Coffee project and Alexco Resource Corp.’s Keno Hill Silver District.

Exploration and development figures are typically made available in the Yukon government’s fall economic outlook. But that report hasn’t been published this year, in part because of the recent territorial election.