In the summer of 2016, Goldcorp, one of the biggest gold-mining companies in the world, bought the Coffee Gold project in the Yukon from Kaminak for $530 million. Though the proposed mine, 130 kilometres south of Dawson City, has an estimated life of ten years, Goldcorp CEO David Garofalo believes that’s just the beginning. There’s a lot more gold waiting to be found.
Where does the Yukon figure into Goldcorp’s plans?
Whenever we’re looking at new opportunities, there are a couple things we’re looking at. We’re looking for a good mining history—receptivity to mining. Obviously the Yukon has that in spades. And what we’re also looking for is the potential for assets that can be scaled geologically and, ultimately, operationally.
While Kaminak did a tremendous job of outlining a resource of 5 million ounces on that property, they really only did exploration work on a small fraction of the overall [property.] We believe this deposit could at least double in size based on the geological prospectivity, the soil sampling done to date and the geophysical work.
We bought it with a view that we could increase the size of it geologically and then ultimately look at a much larger operation over time. Initially, build it to the scale that’s been defined in the feasibility study Kaminak did, but hopefully with some exploration success over time, we could at least extend the mine life.
We see district potential here as opposed to just a distinct, one-off mine. We see the potential to build an industrial complex there and leverage that over many, many decades.
So you see Goldcorp potentially in the Yukon for decades?
Yeah, it’s not just a ten-year mine in our view because we think there’s a lot of ounces to be found here. As I said, it could either extend the mine life or afford us opportunities to look at a larger-scale operation over time, which obviously creates more employment and a bigger tax base for the local economy.
Are you focused on exploring the property or building the mine and continuing exploration simultaneously?
The advantage a large-scale and well-capitalized mining company like Goldcorp has is we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can build out the operation as quickly as practical, in consultation with local stakeholders and the government, and at the same
time drill it aggressively.
We’re doing both. We’re working very well through the [Impact and Benefits Agreement] process with the local First Nations and I’m very confident we’re going to get there with them and get through the permitting process and get construction going. In fact, we’ve already engaged a mining contractor to do the engineering work so that we’re in a position to start construction very quickly once we get through the permitting and consultation process.
At the same time, we’re spending quite a bit more on exploration and drilling a lot more metres along trend—not just around the existing deposit, but looking for the potential to expand the overall mineralized envelope. It’s in the $20-million range [in 2017] and will result in a total of 71,000 metres of drilling.
The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board halted the review of your project in July for failure to consult with local First Nations. Is that back on track?
We’ve had a very constructive relationship with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Chief Roberta Joseph in particular. We actually agreed to financial terms on the IBA, now we’re working through the other elements. She and her team have been well engaged. We have been well engaged. I have to say that when Chief Joseph saw YESAB was about to suspend their review, she reacted very quickly and sent a letter of support in for the project and asked them not to suspend the review.
Have you been up to site much?
I was just up there last month. I’m really excited about the opportunity. We’re right in the middle of the season and I’m very pleased with our exploration results. It’s starting to bear out our geological thesis about the potential to grow that resource significantly. We’re really just scratching the surface at this stage.
Did you try the Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City?
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)