Can gold be found anywhere in Canada?

Canada: gold mining as a lifestyle

With the high price of gold, interest in the traditional search for the precious metal is also increasing in Canada. Old small family businesses suddenly come back to life.

Toronto. It is quiet on the rivers in the Yukon Territory. Ice covers the water, the ground is frozen hard. 30 degrees minus. The prospectors have retreated to Dawson City, Whitehorse, or even further south. In April they return to their “claims” in search of the precious metal. This year there should be more soldiers of fortune. The high price of gold beckons.

Stuart Schmidt will move to Thistle Creek and the Lower 60 Miles River. The 56-year-old is a "placer miner". With "placer mining" the gold is extracted from the earth and rubble of the rivers. In contrast, the large open-cast mines are driven deep into the rock. “It's not enough today with a spade, a scraper and a sieve,” says Schmidt. Even simple gold prospectors have to invest in machines - around half a million dollars. Schmidt's machines are located on Thistle Creek and the Lower 60 Miles River. He will employ 18 people from May to October. By the end of the season, he hopes to have collected 6,000 to 8,000 ounces of gold that is approximately 80 percent pure.

When asked if he is a rich man, Stuart Schmidt laughs. “I have millions of dollars in operating costs. Over a million dollars for fuel alone. I have to get everything by plane or boat, 80 miles from Dawson City. ”What at first suggests a huge profit when gold is close to the $ 1,000 mark is reduced to a respectable but not overwhelming profit.

Dawson City, the gold mining town in Canada's Yukon Territory, is the symbol for gold. 110 years ago, in 1898, the gold rush on the Klondike reached its peak. Dawson, now a 2000-soul congregation, then numbered more than 30,000 people. After gold nuggets were found at Bonanza Creek, thousands poured into the area. They came by boat from San Francisco and Portland to Skagway on the Alaskan coast and dragged themselves over the Chilkoot Pass and the infamous "Golden Staircase". Among them was the writer Jack London, who described the time in his "Call of the Gold". Dawson became the “Paris of the North” with hotels, bars and the still existing casino.

Today the market is dominated by corporations. 2500 tons of gold were mined worldwide in 2006, about 100 tons in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. At two to three tons, gold prospecting on the Yukon is hardly significant.

Gold rush not yet in sight

But gold prospecting on the Yukon is not just history, it is a lifestyle - and a family business. The trade is run exclusively by small family businesses, the history of which sometimes goes back to the time of the gold rush in 1898. Stuart Schmidt's father was also a gold prospector and the family tradition goes back even further: "My great-grandfather came to California from Germany in 1849."

A gold rush like the one 100 years ago is not in sight, "but people are again more interested in prospecting for gold in the Yukon Territory," says Bill Lebarge of the Yukon Geological Survey. In 2007, 24 exploration projects were started. Everyone on the Yukon is convinced that 2008 will be a good year for prospecting for gold.

("Die Presse", print edition, March 10, 2008)