The Yukon government is predicting an increase in mineral exploration spending this year, despite recent numbers from the federal government that suggest exploration is down.
Last week, Natural Resources Canada released revised 2015 spending intentions from exploration companies in the Yukon, totalling $104.8 million.
That’s a significant drop from a February estimate that predicted over $126 million in spending this year. It’s also a decline from 2014 spending, which weighed in at $107.1 million.
But Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources still estimates that exploration spending will increase this year, regardless of the federal numbers. The department’s numbers are typically lower than the federal figures, because Natural Resources Canada includes spending on road development and environmental baseline work. The territorial numbers only include pure exploration work.
This year, the Mines Department is predicting that exploration spending will rise to $100 million, up from $80 million in 2014. A large part of that total is related to exploration expenditures at the Selwyn project in eastern Yukon, which are expected to rise to $40 million this year from $32 million in 2014.
Jesse Devost, a spokesperson for the department, said a new player, BMC, also spent $15 million at Kudz Ze Kayah, “which wasn’t on the books last year.”
He said there were 85 mineral exploration projects in the Yukon this year, up from 64 in 2014.
Devost couldn’t provide an explanation as to why Natural Resources Canada’s numbers have dropped while his department’s estimate remains unchanged. But he said he believes the department’s figures are accurate because it has “an open communication with all the companies that are doing work in the Yukon.”
“Our staff are in constant contact with the companies,” he explained.
Mineral exploration peaked in the Yukon in 2011 and 2012. Natural Resources Canada’s numbers peg spending at $331.7 million and $233.2 million in those two years, respectively. That dropped off to $100.6 million in 2013.
The Yukon’s recent economic outlook predicted that spending on mining development would drop to $40 million this year from $50 million in 2014. It also found that the value of mineral production would be cut in half this year to about $200 million, in large part due to the closure of the Wolverine mine and the continued suspension of production at the Bellekeno mine.
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