November 20, 2012
At a recent mining conference a speaker claimed the Yukon was ‘under-mined’, meaning there are only three operating mines in a huge territory, Larger than Germany. There should be 10 mines in the Yukon he suggested.
The attached table shows the areas of the jurisdictions in North America and the area north of 56 degrees latitude (approx.). It also shows the number of operating mines in each jurisdiction and the square kilometers per mine.
A few observations:
- There are no operating mines in northernmost BC or Manitoba. BC in particular is on the cusp of several mining developments in the north-west with the construction of a hydro line down Highway 37.
- Nunavut has only one operating gold mine, with another under construction. Nunavut has the lowest density of operating mines, followed by Quebec.
- Greenland is 80% covered in ice. The data above removes the portion of land area covered by ice in the calculation. It has only one small operating mine. It is worth noting that Greenland does not have free range staking, but allows exploration only by permit.
- Half of Alaska’s mines target gold.
- Surprisingly, the Yukon has no hard-rock gold mines operating.
- Alberta has 5 giant bitumen mines. Most new oil sands projects now are not mines, but SAGD heat recovery operations.
Yukon is not the most ‘under-mined’ jurisdiction in the north. In the east, Nunavut and Quebec, have vast geographic area but only two mines between them.
Obviously, geology is part of the mix. The east is part of the Canadian Shield, ancient 2 billion year old Pre-cambrian rock. Alaska and Yukon are for the most part made up of much younger rocks (<350 MY), called terranes that accreted onto the continent.