AND WHITEHORSE STAR REPORTS

As the price of copper continues to fall, Capstone Mining’s Minto Mine is set to stop underground mining at the end of March and open pit mining in August.

The mill will continue to stockpile ore until April 2017, and afterwards will implement a temporary closure as owners wait for the price of copper to recover.

As of Jan. 25, copper was selling for $1.98 per pound U.S., dropping from $2.14 per pound in the last month. For business to return to normal, Capstone Mine Manager Ron Light told the Whitehorse Star that prices would have to move back to upwards of $2.20 or $2.30 per pound.

While the Yukon will feel the impacts strongly, with approximately 322 mine workers affected, Skagway won’t feel the effects for a year, in which time the price of copper could go back up.

Dave Hunz, owner of Mineral Services, which operates the Ore Terminal, said the mining activity is currently on hold due to warm weather, but as soon as an ice bridge can be built on the Yukon River, Skagway will continue to receive product four to six days a week.

Deliveries stopped coming to Skagway in October, but the mine has continued to produce, stockpiling ore. With the unseasonably warm weather, Hunz said the 75-day winter delivery window might drop down to 50 days, but he expects ore in the next week or so.

Minto Mine is the only hard rock producing mine in the Yukon and the only one utilizing Skagway’s Ore Terminal. Should the market recover, the mine has enough product to last until 2022.