“The Yukon… in the northwestern corner of Canada just east of Alaska, sparsely populated, naturally beautiful, and wild… a land of mountain ranges, plateaus, and river valleys.
Historically, it is often remembered for the Klondike Gold Rush and remains to this day, one of the world’s premier mining jurisdictions. Exploration companies like White Gold Corp and Klondike Gold Corp are an integral part of the industry that is the largest private contributor to the Yukon economy.”
Shawn Ryan is the Chief Technical Advisor for White Gold Corp, the legendary prospector dubbed the “King of a New Yukon Gold Rush” in a 2011 New York Times article, and recipient of multiple Prospector of the Year awards.
“The big gold rush that happened in 1898, they all came up looking for placer gold, and placer gold is gold found in these creeks such as this and the gold is liberated from the hard rock sources in the hills, and as it comes down the hills it ends up in the creeks and then at the bottom of the creeks. So if I take a gold pan or a big sluice plant and you wash those gravels, gold is the heaviest thing, it drops to the bottom, and that’s how they get their gold from a placer point of view. So it’s easy to get the gold out.”
– Shawn Ryan
While the original Klondike Gold Rush allowed some prospectors to get very rich, very quickly, panning for placer gold, the rush was over quickly with many prospectors moving on as rumors spread that the gold in the Yukon was all gone. White Gold Corp and many other current exploration mining companies are now focused on finding the source of the placer gold in the Yukon. Shawn Ryan uses a combination of methods including his proprietary soil-sampling processes and working with GroundTruth Exploration, inventors of the Drone to Drills exploration method.
“We’ve got to hone that part to drill because drilling is the most expensive, and you could be five meters away from the deposit and drill the wrong direction. But the idea is that programs are only designed once you kind of make a discovery or you have a good idea and then you can, and then it costs you money to do these programs. So the idea is you’ve got to budget these things and how much, how many samples you’re going to take because it’s always a risk. So there’s this risk that you don’t want to put too much money in the ground, but you don’t want to put too little, so that you could actually find these things.”
– Shawn Ryan
Peter Tallman is the President and CEO of Klondike Gold Corp, and one the Yukon’s most respected geologists with over 35 years of experience in the mining industry. He is also a self-proclaimed storyteller who enjoys taking people on his “three-hour-tours” of the region, showing them unique places that many don’t get to see and entertaining them with stories of the rich history of mining in the area. He also played a minor part in season 5 and 6 of the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush, as the “Evil Claim Lord” of the McKinnon Creek Placer Mine.
Our tour began at the site of the discovery of gold on Eldorado Creek by Anton Stander and four of his prospecting partners. While the nearby Bonanza Creek discovery is credited as the beginning of the Klondike Gold Rush, Peter would argue that the discovery at Eldorado Creek 14 days later is even more significant in some ways. The Stander Zone is part of Klondike Gold Corp’s land package today, and Peter still takes the time to poke around in the rocks at the site of Anton Stander’s old cabin.
“I often poke around in these rocks because there’s an immense amount of gold that has gone through this particular site over the years and I’m always just trying to poke in there and see if he left any nuggets in the fireplace. So far I haven’t found any. But I always say every day when I pass by, I always ask Anton to wish me luck, and I hope perhaps his original luck helps me find gold here too.”
– Peter Tallman
The Lone Star Mine Building in the middle of Klondike Gold Corp’s Lone Star Zone, provides a look into the conditions of underground miners in the early 1900s when newspapers were glued to the walls in an effort to provide just a bit more insulation against the cold.
“The Lone Star Zone is the principal zone of gold mineralization for Klondike Gold today. Originally some gold was discovered here just after the turn of the century, 1902-1903, and that came following the 1896 discovery of gold in Bonanza Creek, which is just downhill from here. What we’ve learned recently is that the Lone Star Zone is the source of the Bonanza Creek placer gold. So in Bonanza Creek there’s been three million ounces of gold come from the creek over the last 125 years and we’re standing on the source of it.”
– Peter Tallman
Gold, silver, lead, and zinc continue to be the most economic non-renewable resources in the Yukon.
The Yukon is one of many prolific mining jurisdictions around the world, with rich histories and stories of their own. Stay tuned as we travel and explore them one by one.