‹ Minerals

Weak commodity prices take their toll

July 23, 2013

In Yukon territory, Canada’s only producing silver mine, Bellekeno, will soon suspend operations. The small gold mine Nixon Fork in Alaska has ceased operations. Blame low silver and gold prices. 

Alexco Resource Corp., owner of the small Bellekeno mine has developed a contingency plan to operate through the summer while beginning preparations to undergo a temporary and orderly suspension of operations at the Bellekeno mine and mill prior to the onset of winter. This avoids selling silver at current or weaker market prices, and positions the mine and mill for a re-opening after the winter, assuming the silver market has improved from current levels and underlying fixed costs have been reduced. Alexco plans to use the winter period to significantly restructure the underlying fixed costs at Keno Hill, as well as refine plans for a production ramp-up to 400 tonnes per day in the 2014—2015 time period. To that end, Alexco continues to move forward with a preliminary economic assessment that includes the currently known resources at Bellekeno, Onek, Lucky Queen and the new discovery at the Flame & Moth. The Company will also commence the environmental assessment for the initial development of the Flame & Moth deposit.

Alexco is listed on TSX ticker AXR. It’s shares trade at $1.45 and the company has a market cap of $90M.

Nixon Fork is a small, previously developed, gold and copper mine in Interior Alaska, which re-opened in July 2011 and then suspended operations in June 2013. The mine is owned by Fire River Gold Corp. The Nixon Fork mine operated from 1995-1999, and then was re-opened briefly in 2007 by a different operator.  Currently, Canadian-based Fire River Gold Corporation owns the small underground mine and the mining leases.  The mine is already fully permitted and bonded, and almost all the required equipment and infrastructure are still in place which made restarting the operation relatively easy.

The Nixon Fork property has a 150 tonnes per day gravity and flotation processing plant mill and a 250 tonnes per day Carbon-in—Leach (CIL) Circuit, surface and underground mobile equipment fleets, an 85 person fully equipped camp, 2 company owned drills, a self-contained power plant, water and septic systems, and a 1280 meters long landing strip.

Fire River Gold Corp. is listed on TSX ticker FAU. It trades at $0.01 per share. It has a market cap of $3 M.


The price of silver has dropped from $35/oz. a year ago to less than $20/oz today. The price of gold is down by $240 from one year ago, about a 15% decline. Lower commodity prices lead to mining company’s struggling to contain costs, and in some cases to production being halted.