By Larry Persily
The first truckloads of copper concentrate from the reopened Minto Mine are expected to arrive in Skagway mid-January, with the first ship anticipated to dock in March to pick up the concentrate for delivery to Japan, according to the mine’s new owner.
The mine resumed operations in October. London-based Pembridge Resources purchased the operation in June for $20 million from Vancouver-based Capstone Mining, which closed down the mine in 2018. The open-pit and underground copper-gold-silver mine, about 150 miles north of Whitehorse, first opened in 2007.
The new owners said the mill started back up on Oct. 10 and the first copper concentrate was produced on Oct. 11. The first underground blasting was Oct. 13, providing more ore for the mine to process.
Minto becomes the second producing hard-rock mine in the Yukon Territory, following Victoria Gold’s Eagle Gold Mine north of Mayo that poured its first gold bar on Sept. 17.
Pembridge Resources already has received its first revenues since reopening Minto. The company’s Minto subsidiary received a 90 percent provisional payment of US$3.4 million from Sumitomo Ltd. for the concentrates produced in the month of October, Pembridge said in a prepared statement earlier this month.
In July, the company signed a 100 percent offtake agreement with Sumitomo, providing for monthly provisional payments and then payment of the balance due on delivery of the concentrate to Japan, where Sumitomo operates a smelter.
The mine produced 1,734 dry metric tonnes of copper concentrate in its first month, as well as gold and silver concentrates, the Pembridge statement said.
The first ore truck is anticipated to arrive in Skagway mid-January, “depending on when the ice bridge is secure over the Yukon River,” Borough Manager Brad Ryan said in his report to the assembly for the Nov. 25 meeting.
“Anticipating five 50-ton trucks six days (maybe seven days) a week from mid-January through mid-March, depending on the ice bridge,” Ryan reported, based on his conversation with an official at the Minto Mine. “Lynden Transport will be providing the trucking.”
The trucks will depart from Whitehorse each morning and drive to the mine for loading, tentatively arriving in Skagway around 1 p.m., with an evening return, Ryan reported.
“First ore ship should be loaded around mid-March,” with approximately 10,000 to 12,000 tons, he said. “The ships will be shared with other mines in Southeast,” the manager said, reporting that the company estimates bringing in an additional ship in August and one later in the fall to load up at the Skagway ore terminal.
The opening activities at Minto were the first steps in ramping up toward full capacity, Gati Al-Jebouri, Pembridge chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement in October.
At its peak production, the Minto Mine employed between 250 and 300 workers, including contractors, regularly delivering truckloads of concentrate to the ore terminal in Skagway.
- with reporting from Chuck Tobin, Whitehorse Star