Shawn and Kathy Ryan were recognized locally and nationally for their extensive prospecting and exploration work.
The efforts by the husband-and-wife team in what has become known as the White Gold District south of Dawson City were credited for kicking off another gold rush.
Some of the property staked by their company near the confluence of the White and Yukon rivers was sold off in 2010 to Kinross Gold Corp., a major gold-producing company based in Toronto with operating mines in six countries.
Not far away to the south on the west side of the Yukon River, another block of Ryan claims was picked up Kaminak Gold.
The company spent tens of millions proving up the Coffee property. It was sold last summer for $520 million to Goldcorp, said to be the fourth-largest gold producer in the world.
The Vancouver-based company has committed to spending approximately $420 million to bring the open-pit Coffee project into production by the end of 2020.
And now there is another major gold company investing in the White Gold District, and Shawn Ryan is right in the thick of things.
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. – trading this morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange for $59 a share – closed a $14.5-million deal last month to purchase a 19.9 per cent interest in what was then named G4G Capital Corp., but is now named the White Gold Corp. The TSX started trading the company under the new name on Dec. 23.
G4G announced last September it had entered into an option agreement with Ryan and his Wildwood Exploration company to purchase 12,301 quartz mining claims in the White Gold District.
Agnico Eagle finalized its $14.5-million purchase on Dec. 13.
G4G announced the official name change Dec. 22, the same day it announced it had exercised its option to purchase the 12,301 quartz claims in 21 different properties through the White Gold District.
As part of the whole arrangement, Ryan and a couple of other notable individuals in the mining world exercised their option to purchase a third of the shares of White Gold Corp. for $3 million. And Ryan will help guide the company’s exploration program.
He explained in an interview Thursday the decision to sell off all their remaining claims to one company was part of a strategic plan.
The plan was to have all the claims under one roof, he said, adding that along with the package of claims came a three-year exploration strategy headed by Ryan.
Ryan said when they shopped around the proposal to the market in Toronto, Agnico Eagle saw the value.
The intent is to use the tens of thousands of soil samples Ryan compiled during the early exploration work going back to 2002.
The soil samples provide something of a road map to the areas where the potential is most promising, he explained.
Ryan said it’s like locating a bunch of haystacks in a farmer’s field. Now that they know where the haystacks are, they know where to look further.
So for the next three years, they’ll be using the money raised by the sale of shares to Agnico to fund an advanced, low-impact and mobile exploration program developed by Ryan, he explained.
He said the intent is to drill 200 holes a year beginning this season using a rotary air blast (RAB) drill to zero in on the targets.
If and when the RAB holes turn up something of promise, and Ryan is convinced it’s a question of when and not if, the White Gold Corp. will know where to focus a more expensive diamond drill program, Ryan said.
“By doing this method, we are going to be able a to cover a large amount of ground for a very effective price,” David Schmidt, chief financial officer for the White Gold Corp., said in an interview Wednesday.
“And if we have any success, and we expect we will, then we can follow up with a larger diamond drill program.”
Schmidt explained the relatively shallow holes drilled by the RAB cannot be used to provide estimates of potential ore bodies for the market because the market requires results from the deeper diamond drill holes, or something similar. But results from the RAB program can certainly be used in-house to guide future steps in the exploration program, he said.
Ryan said with three major gold companies invested in the White Gold District, the district is shaping up to look like the gold camp around Timmins, Ont., that was initially discovered more than 100 years ago, and is still going.