Yukon's Minto copper mine wins key water permit, resumes operation
Resumption of mining will put at least 100 back to work, company says
The Minto copper mine has received the permits required to access new ore reserves.
The long-awaited water use license was issued Wednesday by the Yukon Water Board. Manager Ron Light says the permit will put at least 100 contract employees back to work. Licensing delays the past year have forced Capstone's contractor, Pelly Construction, to lay off 94 workers.
"We started pushing dirt at our Minto North open pit around 10:58 [Wednesday] morning so it was a quick turnaround at getting people back to work," he said. "The objective now is for Pelly to add some manpower and increase the clearing so we can start the stripping and get to the ore."
Light expects the mine will be able to hire locally, due to recent layoffs at other Yukon mines. He says it could take a few months before the mine is back to full production.
Pelly vice president Jennifer Byram says former employees will have first shot at the jobs. She said she can't give an exact number, but says the company will need to refill most of the same positions.
"[We're] looking to see who we laid off and who wants to come back, while we are hoping to get to Pelly Crossing in the next few days to see who is available there and put up the notice that we are looking for people."
Byram said the positions are camp jobs, working shifts of two weeks on, and two weeks off.
Capstone Mining owns the mine, located 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse. It says the water license will extend the life of the Minto mine, to at least 2021.
Light says a streamlined permitting process would encourage more investment in the Yukon. Light says the wait for Minto's permit was frustrating,
"I know we complain about it a lot but the water board took their time, did a thorough review, unfortunately the process in the Yukon is extremely long and it can discourage some investment."
Light says he's looking forward to seeing recent changes to the permitting process implemented.