Mining and prospecting have always been a gamble. When the gamble pays off, good things happen. Still, in the mining business, nothing lasts forever.
Since the 1880's, small amounts of gold had been taken from the creeks and sandbars along the Pelly River, but most were pretty small operations. However, the area is rich in minerals.
In 1953, prospector Al Kulan and seven Kaska prospectors staked the claim that would eventually become the Faro mine. The discovery had been first made by a prospector named Jack Sterriah while hunting in the VanGorder Creek area several years earlier.
In 1960, Kulan and Dr. Aaro Aho formed Dynasty Explorations to work the claims. It didn’t take long to realize they had hit upon a world-class deposit of lead-zinc.
By 1965, one hundred men were working in the area. Dynasty joined with Cypress Mining of California to form the Cyprus Anvil Mining Corporation. The mine officially opened in 1969 and, by the mid 1970's, it was largest lead-zinc mine in Canada .
Construction of the town of Faro, named for the card game, started in 1968. By 1969, with a number of houses built, disaster struck. On Friday, June 13th, a forest fire swept through the newly built town destroying most of the homes.
Cyprus Anvil cleaned up the mess and rebuilt the town. In 1979, the population of Faro was about 800 people, but grew over the years as the mine expanded, until 1981, when nearly two thousand people called Faro home.
But mining is a tenuous business. With ever-changing world metal prices, the population fluctuated. Then in 1984, Cyprus Anvil shutdown, and by 1985, there were only ninety-seven people living in Faro.
In 1986, Curragh Resources was formed and resumed mining operations until the mid-1990s. Due to low world metal prices and the Westray mine disaster, however, Curragh was forced to declare bankruptcy.
The mine again closed, and reopened under the name Anvil Range Mining, operating until 1997. Today the mine is closed permanently and reclamation of the mine site is in progress. The town of Faro has about four hundred people who love the land and the lifestyle in a Yukon region that has much to offer, and the future looks bright.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin