Vangorda Plateau History
The original discovery of silver lead zinc mineralization at Vangorda and then Faro has been historically credited to Al Kulan. In reality, it was Ross River Nation members Jack Sterriah (“Dena Cho”) and his wife Broden (“Las Tsok”) that led Al Kulan to the location of Vangorda beneath Tse Zul Mountain and later Faro, in their traditional hunting grounds after Al asked the Sterriahs if they had ever seen certain rocks that contained silver lead zinc mineralization.
For many years, the Sterriah family provided shelter and food for Al in their home when he was prospecting on and near the lands of the Ross River people.
Although the Vangorda deposit was discovered first, it was the Faro deposit that spurred major development with the Faro Mine commencing operation in 1969. It has undergone three separate operating cycles under different ownership.
The Grum lead-zinc deposit was discovered in 1973 and in 1988 Curragh Inc. began development and subsequent mining of the Vangorda Plateau at both the Grum and Vangorda deposits with open-pit mining. Operations ceased in 1993 when Curragh went into receivership. Vangorda and Grum were reopened in 1994 under new ownership (Anvil Range Mining Corp.) and both operated until 1998 when the Vangorda deposit was exhausted, and Anvil went into receivership. Deloitte and Touche were appointed by the court to oversee the maintenance and environmental care of the sites, with that responsibility being taken over by the governments of Canada and Yukon in 2009.
At its peak operation, the entire Faro mine complex contributed an estimated 35% of Yukon GDP. The mine infrastructure and town of Faro were built by the private sector for $68 million to support the mine and the number of residents topped 2,100 in 1982. Governments invested more than $56 million in supporting infrastructure - railway upgrades, a new highway, access roads, power transmission and hydro-electric expansion.
Today, approximately 340 people remain in Faro, mostly supporting the remediation efforts for the Faro mine.
Faro Mine and Vangorda Lands
While the Faro Mine Complex was originally under single ownership, the actual Faro Mine is separate and distinct from the Vangorda Plateau Lands housing the Vangorda and Grum deposits. They are separated by 15 km with a gravel road between the two areas.
The governments of Canada and Yukon retain full responsibility and oversight for the Faro Mine site and the legacy remediation liabilities there. A key tenant of the acquisition agreement is that Canada retains liabilities for all historical impacts and liabilities from previous operations and impacts to the environment. Should production commence on the Vangorda Lands, the partnership will assume responsibility for the historical liabilities and any future remediation and reclamation specific to the newly acquired site.