Silver Mining and Exploration in Canada

Silver mining and exploration are important in Canada, and investors interested in the space should be aware of a few key players.

silver mining

Mining is one of Canada’s main industries, and the country is well known for its production of potash, uranium, cobalt and platinum, among other minerals.

Silver mining is also important in Canada. Though the country isn’t one of the world’s 10 top silver-producing countries, its output is still significant. In 2016, Canada ranked 15th in silver production, with 13 million ounces produced. Global silver production reached 885.5 million ounces that year, down from 890.8 million ounces in 2015.

In Canada, most silver produced is mined as a by-product from other metal mines. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), mines in Canada are largely polymetallic, so it’s no surprise that the main sources of silver in Canada are copperzinc, copper-nickel, gold and lead-zinc ores. For example, Hudbay Minerals’ (TSX:HBM,NYSE:HBM) Manitoba-based 777 mine mainly produces zinc and copper, but also puts out some gold and silver.

Interestingly, NRCan data shows that the Canadian province of Ontario holds about a quarter of the country’s total silver reserves. The Yukon is in second place, with 22 percent, followed by BC with 16 percent, Quebec with 17 percent, New Brunswick with 10 percent, Manitoba with 6 percent and Newfoundland and Labrador with 1 percent.

At the moment, a wide variety of companies are engaged in silver mining and exploration throughout the country, though most activity is focused on BC, Nunavut and the Yukon. To help investors become familiar with the landscape, we’ve put together a list of publicly traded companies that are currently mining and exploring primarily for silver in those locations. The firms listed all had market caps of over $5 million as of June 21, 2017.

Silver mining in BC

BC is the corporate base for many Canadian mining firms, and fittingly the province is also a major producer of base and precious metals with a long history of silver mining.

For example, the BC-based Sullivan lead-zinc-silver mine, which was in production from 1909 to 2001, was once one of the world’s largest producing mines, with estimated total silver production of 280 million ounces. Barrick Gold’s (TSE:ABX,NYSE:ABX) Eskay Creek mine, which operated in the province from 1995 to 2008, was one of North America’s highest-grade gold and silver deposits, with annual silver production of 15.5 million ounces.

Currently BC is currently home to a number of companies that produce silver as a by-product of metals like gold and copper. That said, there are some companies in the province with exploration projects focused on silver — here’s a look at a few.

Dolly Varden Silver (TSXV:DV)

Market cap: $20.37 million; current share price: $0.57

Dolly Varden Silver owns the Dolly Varden silver properties in Northwestern BC. The properties cover 8,800 hectares, and contain four past-producing mines that ceased operations in 1959. According to the company, only 3 percent of the land package has been explored in detail. In May, Dolly Varden announced a 2017 exploration program at the properties; it will consist of 5,000 meters of diamond drilling across 50 exploration targets.

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Klondike Silver (TSXV:KS)

Market cap: $6.15 million; current share price: $0.055

Klondike Silver says its goal is to revive the Slocan Mining Camp, a 100-square-kilometer brownfields silver-lead-zinc project in Southeastern BC. According to the company, it has an active mine permit, a 100-ton-per-day mill and a licensed tailings pond facility, in addition to other assets. Klondike recently said that this coming fall it plans to complete underground drilling in order to identify additional economic mineralization at Slocan. In March, it began undertaking other work to help move the project forward.

Nicola Mining (TSX:NIM)

Market cap: $27.42 million; current share price: $0.17

One of Nicola Mining’s assets is the Merritt Mill and Tailings Facility, which is capable of producing silver concentrate along with free gold concentrate and gold flotation concentrate. The mill began commercial production in March 2013. In April 2017, Nicola Mining entered a long-term mining and milling profit-share agreement with privately owned Gavin Mines to process material from Gavin’s Dome Mountain gold-silver mine near Smithers.

The company also holds the Treasure Mountain property, which is a 7,000-acre silver deposit. The company began underground stope mining in 2011, and extracted an estimated 8,000 tonnes of material, which was then stockpiled. The company has said that due to the current low silver price it will continue exploration work at three prospective targets on the property instead of continuing to mine.

Silver mining in Nunavut and the Yukon

Canada’s territories are not as well known for silver mining and exploration as BC, but they are quickly becoming silver exploration hotspots. As noted, Nunavut and the Yukon have become particularly interesting for junior miners — here are a few that are currently on the hunt for silver in those locations.

Alexco Resource (TSX:AXR,NYSEMKT:AXU)

Market cap: $148.8 million; current share price: $1.72

Alexco Resource has claims in the Keno Hill Silver District, located 330 kilometers north of Whitehorse in the Yukon. The area is considered one of the highest-grade silver districts in the world. The firm’s Bellekeno mine is Canada’s only primary silver mine, but Alexco suspended operations at Bellekeno in the fall of 2013 to decrease costs and reposition the district for long-term, sustainable success.

In January, the company released an updated mineral resource estimate for its Bermingham deposit, expanding the indicated mineral resource from 5.2 million ounces of silver to 17.3 million ounces. Meanwhile, the deposit’s inferred mineral resource increased from approximately 0.7 million ounces of silver to 5.5 million ounces. A few months later, Alexco released a preliminary economic assessment for the Keno Hill District.

Aura Silver Resources (TSXV:AUU)

Market cap: $7.71 million; current share price: $0.06

Aura Silver Resources’ main focus is its Greyhound property, which is currently under option to Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM). Initial project claims were staked in 2006 over historic silver prospects assaying between 1,480 and 3,080 grams per tonne silver. The company’s most recent news regarding Greyhound came in April 2017; it indicates that the latest round of drilling is currently underway.

Avino Silver and Gold Mines (TSXV:ASM,NYSEMKT:ASM)

Market cap: $100.02 million; current share price: $1.93

Avino Silver and Gold Mines currently has 100-percent ownership of the Eagle property in the Yukon. In 2009, through an option agreement with Avino, Mega Silver drilled six holes at Eagle; they successfully identified strong silver, gold, enriched zinc and lead mineralization. In recent years the company has focused more on its Avino property in Mexico.

Did we forget a silver-focused company that’s mining or exploring in Canada? Please let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in August 2010.

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Shaw, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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