Ranj Pillai, minister of energy, mines and resources, during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on April 1. The Yukon government has added $1.1 million to the Yukon Mineral Exploration Program for the 2020 field season. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Territory gives additional $1.1 million in mineral exploration funding

Yukon has had 130 applications so far

The Yukon government has added $1.1 million to the Yukon Mineral Exploration Program for the 2020 field season.

Ranj Pillai, the minister of energy, mines and resources (EMR), made this announcement on June 11. This investment brings the available program funds to $2.5 million.

He explained that this money is coming from the department.

Pillai said the mining industry at large has been hit hard by the pandemic, as COVID-19 has disrupted the industry on many levels including markets, supply chains and the movement of workers.

“These are critical factors hampering the mineral industry and the manufacturing sectors that rely on the goods they produce,” Pillai said.

In the territory this is no different.

Yukon minerals are shipped around the world and investment dollars come in from Outside as well, he said, and communities see economic benefits from the industry.

“The task of keeping international supply chains operating and our communities working is critical during the pandemic,” Pillai said. “This sector will also be key to the economic recovery post COVID.”

He said this contribution to the program is the highest it has ever been, adding that the money will support a record number of companies that have applied for funding.

There are 130 applications and 96 projects. Of the 96 projects, 61 of them are in hard rock mining and 35 are on the placer side.

He explained that these numbers show that companies and individuals are interested and committed to investing in the territory.

Funding through this program will help applicants leverage private sector investments into early stage exploration projects. The proprietor is expected to contribute to the project as well, which will help encourage investment from the private sector.

Pillai estimated that this could lead to an $8.9-million investment into the Yukon’s mining sector.

“In the short term, this funding increase will enable more exploration programs to operate this summer and put more Yukoners to work,” Pillai said.

Looking longer term, the discoveries resulting from this investment could lead to new programs and more local employment opportunities. This industry is a key area identified in the territory’s draft economic recovery plan.

He said that while the industry has been hit hard by COVID, there are still some bright spots. Seabridge Gold acquired 100 per cent interest in the Three Aces project in the Watson Lake mining district in May.

Pillai added that the company is confident that the project is top grade and expected to yield quality ore.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

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