No bust for the mining boom

The Yukon's exploration boom may be slowing, but it's got a long way to go before it busts, says Mike Kokiw, the executive director for the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

The Yukon’s exploration boom may be slowing, but it’s got a long way to go before it busts, says Mike Kokiw, the executive director for the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

But while the sun is shining on the territory’s economy, the rest of the world is in the shade.

With the international economy sputtering, junior mining companies, which make up the bulk of the Yukon’s industry, are having a hard time finding financing, said Kokiw.

“There’s just not a lot of cash out there,” he said. “A lot of the equity markets have just been hit really, really bad.

“If (exploration companies) didn’t have their money around February or March they probably didn’t get the cash secured for the year.”

In 2011 the chamber was projecting $250 million in exploration for this year. Those projections have now been dialed back to just $200 million.

But there’s no need to worry, said Kokiw.

That $200 million is still double the Yukon’s 10-year-average.

“If we go back, even four years ago, we were looking at about $46 to $50 million as normal,” he said. “Our downturn is better than most people’s booms, which is kind of nice.”

And production is going strong.

With three active hardrock mines in the territory, production is worth about $600 million.

That’s five times the amount it was only a few years ago, said Kokiw.

And it’s those companies that are going to be the big spenders in exploration this year, he said. That’s both because their operations give them the cash flow to do that kind of expensive work, and because they’re going to be looking at extending the life of the mines they already have.

“You have to remember too, most of the staking that goes on doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re looking to put a mine in there,” said Kokiw.

Much is done simply to assess the land, he said.

“We have very little baseline data across the Yukon,” said Kokiw. “We don’t really know what’s in the ground.”

And there is an upside to the slowdown.

It gives the territory a chance to shore up its infrastructure, which is what keeps the economy moving, he said.

“A lot of the reasons why we haven’t seen this kind of boom in the past is because we just haven’t had access to a lot of the infrastructure we have now,” said Kokiw.

Although things have been relatively slow recently, the chamber is predicting a gainful next few years.

“A lot of the new methods that we’re using now are so much more environmentally friendly and much cheaper, so a lot of the projects, that perhaps weren’t able to go forward in the past, are now going to be possible because of those new technologies, and the way we do business here in the Yukon,” said Kokiw. “We’re getting quite a name for ourselves.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.


Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

Yukon Party MLAs Wade Istchenko and Stacey Hassard are facing criticism for crude text messages in a group chat. (Submitted)
First Nations leaders call for stricter punishment of Yukon Party MLAs

Queer Yukon has also criticized the two individuals involved in an inappropriate group chat

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

A Yukon government sign is posted to one of the trees that have been brought down for the sewer project in Riverdale explaining the project. The area is set to be revegetated with grass when it is complete. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Planned stormsewer outfall will improve drainage on Selkirk Street

Resident raises concern over clearing as council considers agreement.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

Most Read