Yukon strives again to be a mining magnet

Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:10pm EDT
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon Territory captured the world's imagination in the late 1800s, and today the Yukon is again pushing hard to attract mining development.

"We have all-weather road access and we have access to two deep-water ice-free ports; Skagway, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia," said Harvey Brooks, deputy minister of economic development for the Far North territory.

"We have got control over our natural resources, while the other two territories are still managed by the Government of Canada," said Brooks, who recently addressed a gathering in Toronto hosted by the Yukon Gold Mining Alliance.

The Klondike Gold Rush drew miners from as far as South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It spawned numerous books, songs and poems and was the setting of Charlie Chaplin's 1925 classic "The Gold Rush".

The glory days were short, however, and by the 1920s the Yukon's population had fallen to less than 5,000 after peaking at about 40,000. Today, with a population of about 35,000, the Yukon is aiming to be a winner in the latest global scramble for natural resources.

It was recently rated No. 11 globally in an industry survey that ranks the world's top mining jurisdictions.

But the results of the annual Fraser Institute survey indicate the territory still has room to improve as a magnet for mining as it lags a number of Canadian provinces that have better infrastructure facilities. Nevertheless, the Yukon's ranking has improved consistently over the last three years.

Most mining and energy projects across Canada need to pass muster at both the provincial and federal levels, but the Yukon has a simpler process managed solely by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.   Continued...