North

Yukon's massive Casino mine project pushed back a year

'If it takes us a little extra time to get it done right, we'll take that time,' said Paul West-Sells, CEO of Western Copper and Gold.

Company took extra time to study best methods for dealing with mine waste, CEO says

The proposed Casino Mine site in central Yukon. The project will undergo the highest level of review by the Yukon Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB). (Cathie Archbould/Casino Mining Corp.)

The owners of the Casino mine property in Yukon say the project has been pushed back another year, as the company settles on an approach to dealing with mine waste.

That means it will be at least three more years before construction begins on the proposed mine, according to Paul West-Sells, CEO of Western Copper and Gold, which owns the Casino site.

West-Sells says the company took some extra time over the past year and a half to study tailings technology and determine the best method.   

"That really took us a little bit longer than we had originally anticipated. But it was great study. And so we let it run its course," West-Sells said.

"We've always said that this is a large project, it's an important project for the Yukon. And if it takes us a little extra time to get it done right we'll take that time."

Company president Paul West-Sells says the soonest the proposed mine would open would be in seven years. (Casino Mining)

If approved, the proposed mine would be the biggest in the Yukon. The company expects to spend about $2.5 billion to get it into production. The construction phase alone could employ up to 1,000 people, the company has said.

YESAB panel review

Two years ago, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) sent the project for a panel review, the board's highest level of review. It's the first time that's happened in YESAB's 10-year history.

The newly-announced delay means the company will deliver its "Environmental and Socio-economic Statement" to YESAB a year from now. The original timeline was for that to be prepared by the end of this year.

The Casino mine project would be bigger than any existing mine in Yukon. The site is located about 400 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse. (CasinoMining.com)

West-Sells says the next step is to do more engineering studies on its tailings plan. He calls it very "tried and true technology," in use elsewhere in Canada.

"But with a number of absolutely key refinements to make sure that it's absolutely the safest option for this mine and for the Yukon," he says.

If approved, construction on the proposed mine would begin in about three years, and production would begin about four years after that, West-Sells said. It would have a life span of at least 22 years, and possibly as long as 55.

With files from Sandi Coleman

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