Proposed mine near Ross River begins assessment process

Plans for a potential new mine southeast of Ross River have officially begun working their way through Yukon’s environmental and socio-economic approval process.

Plans for a potential new mine southeast of Ross River have officially begun working their way through Yukon’s environmental and socio-economic approval process.

The Kudz Ze Kayah copper, lead, and zinc mine could produce 5,500 tonnes per day over its approximately 10-year mine life, according to a project proposal submitted this week by the mine’s owners BMC Minerals.

The mine could produce an annual average of 180,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate, 60,000 tonnes of copper, and 35,000 tonnes of lead.

If everything goes smoothly, the plan is to be in production by 2022.

The first step is to submit a proposal to the assessment board which will confirm whether YESAB has enough information to make a decision.

“We’ve submitted what I think is a very robust proposal and we’re confident that we’ve covered all the issues,” said BMC’s chief executive officer Scott Donaldson. “But of course we’re looking forward to a proper review.”

The Kudz Ze Kayah mine, about 115 kilometres from Ross River, would include both open-pit and underground mining along with a processing facility onsite.

The company is promising to upgrade a tote road that runs from the Robert Campbell Highway to the mine, and the Finlayson Lake airstrip located about 40 km away.

Concentrate would travel via the Robert Campbell Highway to Watson Lake and on to Stewart, B.C.

Donaldson estimates the mine would employ 400 people during construction and about the same once it is up and running.

The company has spent about $25 million just getting ready for the assessment process, Donaldson said. That includes logging the results of 70,000 metres of drill cores and completing multiple environmental studies.

Letters have also gone out to the Ross River Dena Council and the Liard First Nation, among others, requesting comments on the project proposal. Donaldson said the company has spent time working with and consulting the Kaska.

BMC purchased the project from Teck Resources Ltd. in January 2015.

“When we first decided to invest in western Canada we came up to the Yukon and we spoke to lots of people. One of the groups we spoke to was Ross River Dena Council. We’ve been well engaged with the community since before we purchased the project.”

He said he’s “reasonably confident” the Kaska will support the mine.

“At the end of the day it’s up to them. We wouldn’t have submitted a project proposal without first making sure that Kaska were aware of what was going on.”

Once the assessment board decides it has enough information, the project will be opened for public comment. There’s no hard date for when that will happen. Victoria Gold Corp’s Eagle mine was in the adequacy phase for 210 days.

Kudz Ze Kayah is not the only mine expected to start the assessment process soon.

Vancouver’s Goldcorp is expected to submit the paperwork for its Coffee mine to the assessment board today.

Goldcorp bought Kaminak Gold Corporation and the mine site near Dawson City last year.

One report on the Coffee mine suggested it is expected to last for 10 years, with an average annual gold production of 180,000 ounces.

The full capital cost throughout the life of the mine is estimated at $478 million, and the project is expected to generate $2 billion in gross revenue for the Yukon, the report said.

With files from Maura Forrest.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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