The Yukon’s White Gold District is located within the Tintina Gold Belt — an approximately 124-mile wide by 746-mile long arc stretching from Northern British Columbia to Southwest Alaska. The area has total gold resources of 69.2 million ounces and contains large gold deposits like the Pogo, Fort Knox and True North.
“Rags to riches” story
Prospector Shawn Ryan is widely credited with the area’s first major discovery since the Klondike gold rush of the late 19th century. Ryan moved to Dawson City in the 1980s to pick mushrooms, not prospect for gold, but using a unique soil sampling method, he began chasing the source of the fabled “Klondike” gold, and bought up claims. He would option those claims to junior mining companies, and in 2009, one of those juniors, Underworld Resources, announced a spectacular drill result of 3.34 grams per tonne (gpt) over about 340 feet in the Golden Saddle zone of the White Gold property, located 47 miles south of Dawson City. The revelation that Golden Saddle contained a million gold ounces in the indicated category, graded 3.2 gpt, and an additional 407,413 inferred ounces, sparked a modern-day gold rush in the newly branded White Gold District, and turned Ryan into a millionaire almost overnight.
Kinross Gold (TSX:K,NYSE:KGC) acquired Underworld for $139.2 million — a 50 percent premium to its average share price before the acquisition — and took over the White Gold project on June 30, 2010.
As of December 31, 2012, the Golden Saddle zone was estimated to have more than 9.7 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources of gold at a grade of 3.19 gpt. Kinross also has a working interest in the Fort Knox open pit mine in the Yukon. The mine produced 329,948 ounces of gold equivalent last year. As of 2012, proven and probable reserves totaled 3.6 million ounces. Other exploration plays in the White Gold District include:
Kaminak Gold’s (TSXV:KAM) primary asset is its Coffee gold project that spans more than 150,000 acres in west-central Yukon. The exploration company has discovered more than 3 million ounces of inferred gold resources at the Coffee project in less than three years. Recent estimates show the project contains 64 million tonnes of ore with gold grades of 1.56 gpt.
Comstock Metals (TSXV:CSL) is developing its QV property, a collection of claims optioned from Shawn Ryan in 2010. In July the company announced results from step-out drilling indicating an expansion of the VG Zone. Highlights included 2.06 gpt gold over 36.4 m and 4.96 gpt over 4.5 m. The second phase of Comstock’s 2013 drill program began this month.
Taku Gold (TSXV:TAK) has 9 gold properties in the White Gold District, including Rosebute, which Taku acquired from Shawn Ryan in 2010. In 2012 the company staked an additional 151 claims, bringing the total number of claims at Rosebute to 695, or 35,551 acres. A trenching program one year ago highlighted 6.17 gpt over 5 m and 1.5 gpt over 20 m.
Pacific Ridge Exploration (TSXV:PEX) has 5 properties comprising over 2,000 claims of the While Gold and South Klondike Districts south of Dawson City. Its flagship Mariposa property is located 7 miles northeast of Kaminak’s Coffee project.
Stina Resources (TSXV:SQA) has 152 claims over 11 square miles on the Kodiak Gold Property, which straddles Thistle Creek — formerly the richest placer gold-producing creek in the area. Samples taken in 2009 indicated maximum gold value of 308.2 parts per billion.