John McConnell and Tara Christie are the Yukon mining power couple. The husband and wife are both presidents and CEOs of Victoria Gold (TSX: VGCX) and Banyan Gold (TSXV: BYN; US-OTC: BYAGF), respectively.
Victoria has the territory’s only producing open pit gold mine, the heap-leach Eagle mine about 275 kms east of Dawson City, which posted record first-half output this year. Banyan’s Aurmac project, about 40 kms from Eagle, has 312.9 million tonnes grading 0.7 g/t gold for 6.2 million inferred oz., according to a resource update in May.
Both sites are part of the Tombstone Gold Belt that arcs across the Yukon including projects held by investor darling Snowline Gold (TSXV: SGD) in the east through Sitka Gold (CSE: SIG) to Kinross Gold’s (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) Fort Knox mine near Fairbanks, Alaska in the west.
“If you were to draw a 50-km circle around us, the area would already have 20 million ounces in gold-equivalent resources, which is pretty, pretty exciting,” Christie said in an interview with The Northern Miner during site tours in July.
“It’s tough to explore in the Yukon because the exploration season is short,” McConnell said in a separate interview. “But the opportunity is that the Yukon is very under-explored.”
The two are long-time northerners steeped in mining culture. British Columbia native McConnell has been in the business for more than 40 years across the north for companies such as De Beers, Western Keltic Mines and Breakwater Resources. He's held the Victoria Gold posts since 2010.
Christie spent summers in the Yukon from age seven. The youngster and her slightly older brother once panned 16 oz. of gold in a season. She later became a geotechnical engineer and geologist, ran a private placer gold mining company, worked a spell at Newmont (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM) in the North and started a consultancy.