Minto halves production, lays off staff

Capstone Mining Corp. has cut production at its Minto mine in half because of a hold up in permitting. The 44 lost jobs belonged to employees of Pelly Construction Ltd. and its subcontractors.

Capstone Mining Corp. has cut production at its Minto mine in half because of a hold up in permitting.

The 44 lost jobs belonged to employees of Pelly Construction Ltd. and its subcontractors.

That company is itself a subcontractor to Capstone, and is responsible for the open pit operations at the mine.

Pelly Construction was notified of the layoffs on January 10, said Jennifer Byram, vice president of community affairs.

“It was a sad morning when we made the announcement, but most people are in the mining industry and understand that these things happen. The crew here is dedicated, hard working, loyal people to us and it was a very sad time.”

About two-thirds of the jobs belonged to Yukoners, she said.

Production will be cut from about 10,900 cubic metres per day to about 5,000.

The reason for the slowdown is that Capstone is running out of ore that it is allowed to mine under the current permit.

The company is currently before the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board for approval of an expansion to the mine.

But the new permits are not expected to be in place before August.

The remaining ore under the current pit would be used up in about three months, said Ron Light, the mine’s general manager.

By cutting production in half the company can continue open pit operations for longer, he said.

“If we don’t get it in August, we’ll have to re-evaluate our mine plans and see what we can do from there.”

Capstone submitted its proposal for the mine expansion to YESAB back in July.

“We applied as early as we could,” said Light.

In August the board asked for extensive additional information that would be required before the proposal would be accepted as complete.

That information was submitted by the company over the following months and in December the board deemed the proposal to be complete.

After a period of public review, assessors this week asked the company for a few pieces of additional information.

The board will eventually generate recommendations as to whether the expansion should go ahead, and under what conditions.

After clearing the YESAB process the company must also apply for updated quartz mining and water licences.

Once that is all in place earthworks will begin at the next open pit, said Light.

The hope is to immediately jump to processing 15,000 cubic metres a day and return to full employment levels, said Light.

In the meantime the company is permitted to continue some underground operations.

But underground operations have just moved from one location to another, so nothing is being produced from those at the moment, said Light.

After six to eight weeks of the current development phase underground productions will resume, he said.

Before the layoffs the full operations at Minto employed a total of about 350 people including Capstone employees and subcontractors.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com