Reviewers with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board are going through a proposal submitted by the owners of a tungsten site near the Yukon-N.W.T. border.
Vancouver-based North American Tungsten Corp. is seeking licensing approvals from the Yukon government for it to turn its remote Mactung property, located 250 kilometres up the Canol Road, into an operating tungsten mine.
The Mactung proposal was submitted to the Yukon assessment board on Dec. 24, and reviewers started reading the 850-page proposal a week later. A national consulting firm based in Brampton, Ont., has been contracted to help with the assessment.
Simon Mason-Wood, who is heading up the Mactung review for the assessment board, said they have about 60 days from the submission date to determine if they needs more information from North American Tungsten before it can post the proposal online and solicit public comment on it.
"There's no sense putting a document that size out, and having the public review it, and then find out it's not adequate and has to be changed," Mason-Wood told CBC News.
"It would be a waste of their time."
If North American Tungsten receives all the necessary permits, licences and approvals, including approval from YESAB, the company wants to start construction in 2010.
Mactung is touted as having one of the world's largest high-grade tungsten deposits. Feasibility studies suggest the deposit is big enough to support at least 11 years of underground mining.
"It is a fairly large project," Mason-Wood said.
"There will be several hundred people involved with construction for a year-or-two period, and then I think when it gets into production there will be about 150 [to] 200 people."
The potential of an operating tungsten mine could be good news for the Yukon, as North American Tungsten chairman and CEO Stephen Leahy said tungsten is still in high demand despite the slumping economy worldwide.
"Unlike you know most other metals, it has not fallen in terms of pricing and we see a lot of potential future for tungsten itself," Leahy said.
"The fact that there isn't really any other major western-based producers — certainly none in North America — and the fact that it's critical for industry, once we get out of this downturn in the cycle, I think that we will see a definite resurgence in demand."
Mason-Wood said that if all goes well, licensing recommendations could be ready for territorial government review within nine months.