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Mining sector expected to invigorate economy

Whitehorse Daily Star by Chuck Tobin

August 9,2017

The Yukon's economy is in for a couple of hot years, the Conference Board of Canada is predicting. The board says the territory's economy is expected to shrink by 0.7 per cent this year. That will be followed by average annual growth of 6.6 per cent over the next three years. The growth will be spurred on by a rebound in the mining sector, particularly with the anticipated development of the Coffee Gold project by Goldcorp and Victoria Gold's Eagle Gold project, says a press release issued last week. "The mining sector's renewed strength will also provide a boost to related industries, including transportation and warehousing, and commercial business services," says the release. "The construction industry should also be a bright spot for Yukon's economy over the next few years. "Public spending will drive growth in the sector until construction of new mining projects get under way next year. Job creation is expected to improve in the territory over the next five years, averaging 790 new jobs annually." The board says the decision by Capstone Mining to ramp up production at its Minto Mine should help carry the economy until the new mining projects get into full swing. Commodity markets are showing the price of gold is still well below its high over the last year, but the US $1,259 per ounce it was selling for Monday is up $46.70 in the last month. The price of silver was at US $16.27 Monday, also well below the one-year high. But base metal prices like copper, zinc and lead are tracking upwards. Selling Monday at $US 2.89 per pound, copper is at the highest it's been in two years. Zinc was selling Monday for $1.29 per pound, or slightly below the five-year high of $1.33 it hit earlier this year, but is still well above the five-year average. Lead was trading at $1.06 per pound Monday, down from the five-year high of $1.10 that it hit in February but up from $0.93 less than two months ago. In addition to the two gold projects on the horizon, BMC Minerals is advancing its open pit, copper-lead-zinc project at its Kudz Ze Kayah property southeast of Ross River. The conference board predicts the Northwest Territories will see economic growth of 12.2 per cent this year with the opening of De Beer's newest diamond mine. The outlook beyond 2017, however, is not as encouraging, as there have been no metal mines operating in the territory since the Cantung Mine closed in 2015, the board points out. The board says increased production from Nunavut's metal mines will continue to fuel growth in that territory's economy. It's expected growth will hit 6.4 per cent this year, the board predicts. "The outlook for most mineral commodities is much brighter today than a year ago," said Marie-Christine Bernard, the board's associate director of provincial and territorial forecasting. "While financing conditions in the mining sector remain difficult, conditions are expected to improve, with a number of projects set to get under way before the end of the decade."