Despite a rocky junior market, exploration continues apace in the Yukon, which is set to have near record exploration expenditures this year. Natural Resources Canada recently estimated nearly CA$300 million (M) would go into mineral exploration in the Yukon during 2012, just a little bit less than last year's CA$307M.
Who is spending the money? Below is an overview of the exploration plans of some of the most prominent Yukon explorers. No favoritism. The list is in alphabetic order. It shows a slew of junior explorers and miners are cashed up and either already drilling or planning to start drilling soon on sizeable exploration programs:
Atac Resources (TSX-V: ATC)
CA$20M in cash.
Focusing on the Rackla Gold project and recently started a 15,000-meter drilling campaign mostly on the Conrad, Osiris, Isis and Isis East targets.
Recent drilling included high-grade gold intercepts over notable strike length with as much as 44m at 4.41 g/t gold at Osiris late last year.
Ethos Gold (TSX-V: ECC)
CA$14M in cash.
To spend CA$7.3M mostly on the Betty gold project.
To drill 16,000m following up on extensive surface anomalies, with as much as 7.3 g/t gold over 50m in a trench last year.
Golden Predator (TSX: GPD)
CA$14M in cash.
Budgets CA$10M for the Brewery Creek project, with drilling ongoing.
Expanding on and defining the Brewery Creek resource: 20M at 0.89 g/t gold, indicated, about half of which is in oxide.
Kaminak Gold (TSX-V: KAM)
CA$21M in cash at the end of December and then in May it raised CA$5M.
It plans 50,000m of drilling to move toward a first—and much anticipated—resource on the Coffee gold project.
It is drilling gaps and extensions to several structures hosting high-grade gold, as recently reported in these pages.
Monster Mining (TSX-V: MAN)
CA$2.4M in cash.
To drill 2,000 or so on the Caribou Hill target on its Keno-Lightning project near Alexco's Bellekeno silver mine.
Last year it hit high-grade silver in the Caribou Hill area with 11 of 14 drill holes showing plus 1,000 g/t silver and silver mineralization over 300-metre strike length so far.
Northern Freegold (TSX-V: NFR)
CA$4M in cash at the end of December and it subsequently raised about CA$7M, mostly in flow-through shares.
This year it plans 25,000m of drilling, largely to expand on resources.
For example: it plans on testing extensions to the Revenue deposit beyond long gold/copper intercepts that included 305m at 0.47 g/t gold, 3.68 g/t silver, 0.12% copper and 0.02% moly.
Northern Tiger (TSX-V: NTR)
CA$2M in cash, end of January.
To do follow-up drilling at the 3Ace project, where it recently hit as much as 2.58 g/t gold over 53m.
Ryan Gold (TSX-V:RYG)
CA$43M in cash.
To spend CA$10M or so on drilling at the Ida Oro project (6,000m) and the Flume project (1,500m)
Ida Oro had numerous long intercepts last year with low-grade gold over broad widths—as much as 137m at 0.56 g/t gold. Ryan Gold said it would drill to the south of last year's collars beneath more gold anomalies.
Victoria Gold (TSX-V: VIT)
CA$30M in cash.
Pushing ahead the advanced-stage Eagle Gold project with some 4.8M ounces gold in resources.
Now in the permitting stage following a feasibility study in which it outlined a 200,000-ounce per year gold mine that would cost about CA$400M to build.
Sees 2015 production.
Exploration notes for a couple of Yukon miners:
Alexco Resource (TSX: AXU)
CA$37M in cash.
To spend CA$12M in 2012 on exploration, with 29,000m of drilling, much of it beyond the operating Bellekeno silver mine.
Includes some 4,000m at Flame & Moth, which has yielded bonanza-grade silver in recent drilling as covered in these pages.
Capstone Mining (TSX: CS)
CA$502M in cash.
To spend CA$5M testing gaps between deposits at the Minto mine, for which it is considering a super pit.