Illegal Mining Trail at McGregor creek

There is a big stink out there about an illegal mining trail. Bad miners!

Illegal mining trail ‘a big deal,’ says Yukon First Nation chief eric-fairclough

                                                                              Chief Fairclough looking concerned…

Prospector and drilling company face charges related to a bulldozed bush trail, north of Carmacks

I don’t really have any inside knowledge about the sordid affair, but have dug up the claim map.

halo-mcgregor

At first I thought it was just the placer claims that were accessed by the trail, but 21km extends it all the way to the Halo claims. The placer claims were staked in June, while the 250 Halo quartz claims were staked in August (and are owned 100% by Thi My Linh Pham).

A bulldozer trail that is pushed off-claims has been a big deal for decades, as much of this trail appears to be. Also, map sheet 115I/8 shows an old trail that leads to the headwaters of McGregor creek – was this rehabilitated? Still, fixing up old trails has been verboten off claims for decades. Or was the dozer walked in with blade up – doesn’t sound like it in the article, but would that change things?

Here is the big question for prospectors as I see it. If the bulldozer trail had only been on the placer claims, is this still a problem with governments and regulators? It wouldn’t be in the Klondike or other mining ghettos. But this creek is new to placer mining as far as I can tell. You stake claims in June, and MUST perform physical work on them within one year, usually by drilling or trenching. None of that pay-in-lieu stuff that the quartz guys get. If this activity is blocked or delayed by bureaucrats until everything is frozen the miner is screwed, as the creek might not thaw until the end of June. Effectively vetoing or expropriating the claims.

Oh yeah, the project was also funded in part by a YMEP grant. D’Oh!

All about money

We’d like our $130M back:  Taseko sues the Feds over Prosperity. [Resource clips]

Lawyer


How to lose a billion dollars. [Mining North]  NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines Prez Gary Vivian pens a pull-no-punches commentary on how the NWT sat out the last exploration boom.

Go away


Financial Assurance Requirements are on the Horizon for US Hard Rock Miners[Mining Law Blog]  So… do you have the money?

While the purpose of the new regulations is laudable, the regulations have the potential to chill investment and slow the development of hard rock mining projects throughout the United States. Hard rock mining is characterized by high barriers to entry, due to its highly capital intensive nature, in terms of upfront investment required for heavy earthmoving equipment, buildings, vehicles, and transport networks and long production start-up lead times.  The financial assurance regulations will only add to the already high costs of undertaking a mining project and could lead to the project becoming altogether financially unviable.

Wheelbarrow

Another good reason to steer clear of B.C.

A long time Yukon prospector now working further afield sent me a copy of an email he received from the B.C. Government.  I didn’t believe it at first but some fact checking suggests it’s legit.  If you’re a prospector or junior mining company trying to sell a property in B.C., take note:

BC Notice


Look like in some deep dark basement in Victoria, Dr. Frankenstein has grafted a BC Securities Commission regulator with a mine inspector and the result isn’t pretty.  Doubtless this is being done in the name of “protecting the public” which seems to justify just about any BS from government these days.  What’s next?  Are prospectors going to have to fill out PIF’s and get an RCMP clearance?   Will they only be able to sell properties to Qualified Investors.

After the bureaucrats have finished chasing down the few two-bit prospectors left in this business, will they going to turn their attention to real prey?   How about the 250 or so juniors with properties in BC?     There will be a lot of website designers out of work in Vancouver if all a junior vending a property can post is name, rank and serial number.

B.C. – Beyond Comprehension.

Smothering

“I’m protecting the public damn it!”

A-Peeling we will go.

First Nations and Greenies hobnobbing about a Peel appeal. [CBC.ca]  They’ve got a news conference scheduled later this morning.  But wait – there’s more:

After this morning’s news conference, the same groups are holding a public event tonight in Whitehorse to talk about “next steps”.  A live-stream of that event is also being presented in Haines Junction, Dawson City and Inuvik.   

I’d give 95% odds they’re going to appeal – especially with a scripted event scheduled.   They’ve little to lose if they  lose an appeal; in that event, the current court ruling stands.    The ruling rewinds the land use planning process back to the start and if they string it out long enough, there’ll be a more pliant administration to deal with in Whitehorse – one ready to park the whole area.  If they win however, the Supreme Court might shove their already baked preservation plan down YTG’s throat and for good measure show everybody who wears the pants in this Territory.

Good timing too:  when better to start fundraising than during the Christmas season?

Forget it - I gave to the Peelers.

Sorry – I gave to the Peel Appeal this year.

Update:   OK – now it’s official.  They’re going to appeal to the Supreme Court. [CBC.ca]   Let the games begin.


Oh give me a home where the Sage Grouse still roam...   BLM is “consulting” the public about their massive land withdrawal.  [Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition]  Speak now and be prepared to fight when they steam roller you anyway.  This will be settled in court but showing up to put the objections on record will surely help.

Sage grouse withdrawals

Faro, Howards Pass and a mine YCS can live with.

BC and Alaska ink a deal to scrutinize each other’s mining projects. [Resource Clips]  Details not included.


Faro Mine cleanup slowed by “complications”. [CBC.ca]  The NDP critic Jim Tredger asks a really important question:

“What does Yukon have to show for the millions of dollars spent on the Faro remediation project?”

The Feds and YTG should be asked how they burned through $60M that past operators posted to execute an approved reclamation plan – by working on a new plan.  Now things are not going according to plan so we’ll have to plan on revising the plan.  There is an unholy feedback loop here which does not serve the public interest:

  1. Mining company develops a low grade pig or restarts a past producer with limited marginal ore left.
  2. There’s a closure plan in place developed by industry experts to reclaim the mine.  It may or may not be fully funded.
  3. The mine goes poof and the Feds (or now YTG) take it over.
  4. They refer their project to their “Assessment and Abandoned Mines Branch” – an unaccountable, first class, gold-plated boondoggle bureaucracy intent on feathering its nest by prolonging any mine reclamation ad infinitum.
  5. Gasps of horror when they look at the remediation plan.  They leak the news to environmental groups who also chime in.  “The plan is deficient and there isn’t near enough money!”.
  6. They “study the project”, working on serial plans;  repeating all sorts of environmental studies and surveys; conducting endless workshops; and consulting the public to death and alarming them in the process.  They burn through all the money the mining company posted for reclamation on this and other goodies.
  7. They have another series of workshops to let the environmental groups know about how huge the problem is, how little progress has been made and how much more money will be needed to clean it up.
  8. Environmentalists howl about the huge, expensive, unreclaimed mess and accuse the government of cutting cozy deals to put mines in production without getting adequate security.
  9. Government refunds the Assessment and Abandoned Mines Branch to make the whole problem go away.
  10. Repeat steps  6 to 9.

Funny how this doesn’t happen when the government isn’t involved in the cleanup (eg. Sa Dena Hes or Brewery Creek).


Kaska Dene not so sure about Howards Pass.  [CBC.ca]  After Faro, sounds like they have their doubts about the benefits of lead-zinc mining.  They have to ratify an IBA or this project is likely DOA at YESAA .


Yukon Conservation Society issues a report card on future Yukon mines. [Yukon News]

Kaminak’s Coffee Creek:   Teacher’s pet.  “While the devil will always be in the details, this project does not at first glance seem too bad.”

Victoria Gold’s Dublin Gulch:   Satisfactory.   “The site is in a region that has been heavily explored for decades, which means there is already habitat fragmentation due to seismic lines, drilling pads and access roads.”  A little hyperbole here as the nearest “seismic line” is 150 miles away on the north side of the Werneckes.

Selwyn Chihong’s Howard’s Pass:  Fail.  “…the scale and size of this project are certainly raising eyebrows in the environmental community. This is yet another massive proposal that will require a long access road, this time along the N.W.T. border down to Tungsten; then lead and zinc concentrate trucks would flow through Watson Lake to Stewart, B.C. That’s right, a 1,000 km road trip for low value products just to get to tidewater. And we are talking a lot of trucks; about 94 large highway trucks every day transporting ore and supplies.”  

Western Copper’s Casino:  Expel immediately!  “Now let us look at some projects that, from the environmental community’s perspective, are complete non-starters, or as YCS likes to call them: environmental horror shows. As always, the massive Casino copper-silver-gold-molybdenum mine heads the list.”  They flunk the project on size, killing the Klaza caribou, using lots of LNG and destroying the climate, etc. etc.  They’re very concerned about remediation and have thoroughly drunk the Kool Aid on Faro:  “Faro is estimated to take 400 years – and one billion taxpayer dollars – to clean up.”  

(How long is it going to take to clean up Assessment and Abandoned Mines?)

The Peel Appeal

YTG loses: it’s either back to the drawing board or another appeal. [CBC.ca]

The final outcome seems predictable; here are a few points to consider:

  • 1.  Miners with claims in the Peel watershed are toast.   The original plan turned 80% of the Peel into a no-go park.   YTG’s Plan B did the same by regulation: it would take lots of money and patience for anyone to ever develop a project under their regime.  But the key point for YTG was you could you see – so forget trying to sue them for regulatory taking.
  • 2.  YTG will do whatever it can to save its hide and that means delay.  The last thing the Yukon Party wants is the Peel issue to be active in the next election.   The overriding calculus will be to just make this go away (until late next fall).   The option providing the greatest delay will be the preferred option around the cabinet table.
  • 3.  The FN’s know the game and their hand just got stronger.  This is about power or its sometimes-suitable substitute: money.  If YTG declines to appeal, expect some broad discussions about “how we’re going to do land use planning better”, etc. before the Peel is  revisited.  The FN’s will want to see something concrete this spring; they aren’t going to help the Yukon Party get back in without a tangible payout.  Expect another backroom deal a la 2005 which landed prospectors in the current Class I mess.
  • 4.  The greenies  will get their  park.   The great majority of the Yukon electorate  works either (1) in white collar jobs for government or one of its creatures or (2) in the retail and service sector supplying government.  For most of them, the area outside of Whitehorse is a place to regulate during the week and recreate during the weekend.  Economic issues just don’t register and the only arguments against turning the whole Yukon into a park are economic.  With no opposing political force, things can only move one way.

Mining will still happen in the Yukon provided it’s in non-scenic areas that greenies don’t want to hike or paddle in, and provided you cut a deal with the FN’s.  That area just got a whole lot smaller.

The bottom line for local prospectors is that if you thought you could make a living just poking around the Yukon and flogging claims, you’re fishing in a puddle.   The frontier is closing (again); you’d be wise to expand your horizons.

Metal prices, Klondike Gold and Northquest

Time to check in on the minor metals of occasional interest to northern prospectors:  moly, tin & tungsten.

Mo-Sn-W

Down 54%, 21% and 34% year on year.

Naked gun


Michael Berry’s presentation to the AQME. [Discovery Investing]  The big picture part seems spot on: we are stuck in a deflationary cycle a la 1938 and nobody has a clue how to get out of it.  Not so sure about the specifics; he’s a big fan of lithium and copper.  Likes Yerington (?!)


Arctic diamonds don’t sparkle like they used to. [Globe & Mail]  The all-seeing eye of central Canada turns it’s somnolent gaze north..   Guess what?  Things are crummy in the NWT with diamond exploration down 53% .  The big culprit?  Unsettled land claims and a large block of ground near Yellowknife removed from staking.   The rest of the story is a summary of the same old grid lock with everybody talking past each other.


Moody’s thinks weak metal prices will slam miners through 2016. [Mining.com]  Brought to you by the guys who predicted the 2007 sub-prime collapse in 2008.  All this means is the credit door is slamming shut after the cow has left the barn.


So why bother coming:  De Beers will allow its sightholders to “defer” buying anything  at the November sale.  [Rappaport]

Kabuki auction

Kabuki auction


Zimtu is getting jaded: 

“People who have a failed company, they’ll run into it and try to make a go of it,” Fulp said. “Ninety-five per cent will fail.”

Scratch another name off the Zimtu Christmas Party list.


Klondike Gold reports their remaining drill results. [Klondike Gold]  The headline hit was 2.8 m @ 75.6 g/t Au  (or – if you like – 0.5 m @ 420 g/t & 2.3 m @ 0.73 g/t).  All of the other reported holes hit from 1 to 12 g/t over 0.2 to 5.4 m .   They drilled 19 holes and reported 13; presumably the rest were duds.  Technical success.  Hopefully they can raise some more cash with this for next year.

KG


Northquest report 7 holes from Pistol Bay. [North Quest]  Headline hole was 24 m @ 2.95 g/t Au.  Looks like the first 7 holes hit with the best being 5.0 m @ 5.11 g/t Au.  They are the masters of full disclosure; you can download drill logs if you like.

Nutty NWT and Sage Grouse

Gold miners sue Oregon over dredging ban. [Reuters]  Their point is that the state is trying to apply state law on Federal lands.

Everybody out of the water...

Everybody out of the water…


U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the EPA was responsible for the Gold King spill. [Reuters]  Of course, it’s more complicated than that with the chain of responsibility naturally extending back to the miners.  So it really isn’t their fault after all.

Gold king


Making up with the “twerp”:  David Suzuki’s missive to Justin Trudeau. [Huffington Post]  One of the CBC’s most famous celebrity creations back tracks on his rhetoric during the federal election campaign.

suzuki


And those pesky sage grouse…

Meanwhile ... the daily bag limit is still 6

Meanwhile … the daily bag limit is 6


NWT’s new Protected Areas plan is nuts. [Mining North]  Here’s a great idea; lets ban mining in 40% of a territory with an economy based on mining.

Miltenberger's militia

Miltenberger’s militia

Diamonds, Dunnedin and drill results

Results from De Beers October sale. [Rappaport]  Buyers passed on half of the parcels on offer; estimated take was $200M.

unhappy


Indian diamond exports in September down 28% year-on-year. [Rappaport] … and imports were down 23% YoY.

Surat


John Kaiser sees an opportunity in diamond exploration. [Kaiser Research Online]  His big idea is that with developments in kimberlite evaluation, some old finds are worth a second look and they might be less risky…

The difference between a grassroots metal play and a brownfields diamond play is that with the former one has nothing until a target emerges and is turned into a discovery, a possibly eternal timeline, while with the diamond play one has something potentially valuable whose assessment involves a fairly clear-cut exploration program with a distinct timeline.


Corporate contretemps in Nunavut.  Seems that a feud between  Allan Barry Laboucan, a recently appointed adviser to Dunnedin Ventures and CEO Chris Taylor has erupted into the public domain.  On one side, allegations of financing skulduggery and a hidden diamond!  [CEO.ca/ Chat]

“One of those events, I can’t go into in-depth details because it is an option that is under negotiation, that gives away too much for too little. I also opposed this because the entity involved is very wealthy and has a propensity for being in lawsuits. I believe that I have enough shareholder support to change the board to do what I can to prevent it from happening.”

“An equally alarming event concerns Chris Taylor, current President/CEO of Dunnedin, and a recent broker investor presentation. It was communicated to me, by a reliable source who was at the meeting, that Mr. Taylor told those at this meeting he had found a diamond while on the property this past summer. As I was with Mr. Taylor while out on the project, I immediately said no we didn’t, there was only three of us on the ground prospecting. I then asked the source who was at the presentation if he was sure that Mr. Taylor said he found a diamond, he assured me he had, and one of the brokers had asked how big the diamond was, Mr. Taylor indicated it was small. Upon finding this out, I was very concerned. There are set protocols on chain of custody of diamonds, if you haven’t announced that to the public, telling brokers you found a diamond while out prospecting is not one of them.” 

After a brief digression on diamonds and kimberlites, he continues…

“The biggest problem is, it didn’t happen, we were prospecting and were certainly hopeful the rocks we had collected contained some diamonds, but we took such small amounts of rock, the chances are small even in a kimberlite field with high-grade kimberlites. The second problem is, if Mr. Taylor had found a diamond, he did not follow proper chain of custody rules.”

and…

“Mr. Taylor had little experience in diamonds when we started the effort to move Dunnedin into the diamond space a little over a year ago. The recent events concerning this diamond he allegedly “found” while out prospecting, and how he handled it are a perfect example of his inexperience concerning the diamond industry, and that he is unfit to lead the company any longer.”

but – there is a solution…

I made these concerns known to the board of directors, at the time my contract had expired, they chose to keep Chris Taylor as President/CEO and not offer me a new contract. I was instrumental in many important events at Dunnedin in its early stages as a diamond company. An offer was made to keep me on as an employee on a limited basis and they would contact me when they need my skill set. My plan is much different. I want to change the board of directors, put me in as the President/CEO and I will bring in a new team with complementary skills to mine and experience in diamonds. Much of what was done in the past, I feel was more about the board of directors trying to build a stock promotion than a diamond mining company. I believe the science of what we have discovered shows we have a world-class diamond project.

and – there’s another card to play…

Another part of my vision, is to make sure First Nations are given more than the lowest jobs on the pay scale, but have the opportunity to move up the ladder and make it into management. I used myself as an example, now the board has made it clear they no longer want me involved in the management of Dunnedin. It would catch world-wide media and diamond mining industry attention for a First Nations mining entrepreneur with expertise in diamonds to be the leader of a Canadian diamond company with a world-class project.

So – stand by:

I will be putting together a dissident shareholder group. I have confidence that I can get a majority of shareholders to back my initiatives and will announce more details in the near future.

and Mr. Taylor has responded [Junior Mining Network]:

Dunnedin Ventures Inc. (the “Company” or “Dunnedin”) (TSX-V: DVI) announces that the term of its consulting arrangement with Allan Barry Laboucan has ended, and the Company has elected not to renew the arrangement. Mr. Laboucan previously served as an advisor to the Company on matters relating to investor relations and corporate communications.

mud wrestling


An interview with UCore’s Jim McKenzie. [MetalNews.com]  He got his start promoting technology companies way back when and may be returning to his roots.  The focus seems to be on developing and licencing their new “SuperLig-One” pilot plant.  Bokan might be their major source of feed but he makes it clear they are looking for others.

Jim McKenzie


And in other REE news…  Chinese output cut as prices sag. [China Mining]  China Southern Rare Earth Group will use 12% less than their production quota this year.


Climate and metal prices [Reuters]


Yukon field trip:  Wellgreen Platinum touts its wares. [Northern Miner] A 330 Mt bouillabaisse of low grade Pt, Pd, Cu, Ni, currently valued at $13 per tonne in-situ.  Their PEA may need revision:

 The company’s economic base case assumes US$1,450 per oz. platinum, US$800 per oz. palladium, US$1,250 per oz. gold, US$8 per lb. nickel and US$3 per lb. copper.


More high grade assays from Ascot’s Lunchroom Subzone at the Premier Mine. [Marketwired]  In addition to stale sandwiches and pop cans, 367 g/t Au over 0.9 m.


Klondike Gold reports drilling results. [Klondike Gold Corp.]  Shallow hits in their first 4 holes from 2.3 to 5.7 g/t Au over 3 to 7.7 m; 15 holes to come.   CEO Peter Tallman reports that:

“in plain terms: the hunt is on.”

Likely first for more money.

Dirty deeds in Alaska

Skulduggery at the EPA. [Petroleum News of Alaska]  If a mining company executive secretly colluded with locals to screw a competitor and then vanished into the jungles of South America when regulators got on his trail, this would be big news – maybe even a movie.   But it’s no big deal when some self-appointed eco-warrior uses his position in the Federal Government to screw a mine proponent and pulls the same vanishing act.  Seems like Mr. Big in the “stop Pebble at all costs” movement is a recently departed biologist working for the EPA who has flown the coop – much to the displeasure of an American judge.


No uranium mining in Quebec! [CTVnews.ca]  There isn’t any; there won’t be any; and the explorecos that spent money are SOL.    … because “there is no “social acceptability” for uranium mining to proceed at this time. After a year of study, a three-person panel said that it would be premature to authorize development of Quebec’s uranium industry.”   Instead of science, we get mob rule.