In 1896, Skookum Jim Mason discovered gold in Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River. His discovery sparked a gold rush that drew as many as 100,000 hopeful prospectors to the Klondike gold fields within two years.

Yukon occupies the northern portion of the North American Cordillera, which contains diverse rock types that record more than a billion years of geological history.

The territory hosts more than 80 mineral deposits with established reserves, some of which are the largest known on earth; they include copper, iron, silver, gold, tungsten, zinc and lead. Yukon also hosts 2,700 known mineral occurrences that cover only 12 percent of its total land mass – hence why it ranks near the top of pack in the world for mineral potential.

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The Klondike Gold Rush helped put Yukon on the map and made the mineral industry its main economic driver. Today it represents more than 20 percent of the territory’s gross domestic product.

Yukon’s modern day gold rush

Yukon’s second major gold rush took place, surprisingly, in the midst of one of the worst global economic downturns in the past century. It began much the same way as the first: by the true grit of a determined prospector drawn by the allure of the undiscovered source of the original Klondike deposits. With a hunch and a tulip bulb trowel, longtime Yukoner Shawn Ryan set out to discover if there were still multimillion-ounce gold deposits to be found just south of Dawson City where the White and Yukon rivers meet.

Ryan would eventually hit pay dirt, and his discovery was the spark that ignited a record-setting staking rush and the $138-million takeover of Underworld Resources by Kinross Gold (TSX:K,NYSE:KGC), earning him the prestigious Prospector of the Year Award at the 2010 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto.

Under this modern-day gold rush – the most impressive staking rush in Canada since the discovery of diamonds in the Northwest Territories in the 1990s – mineral exploration expenditures rose from less than $7 million in 2002 to more than $300 million in 2011.

World-class mineral potential attracting big-name miners

Yukon consistently ranks amongst the world’s top jurisdictions for mining investment, and as one of the most attractive areas for mining investment in Canada. The earlier success of junior resource companies has attracted larger miners to the region as cause for the increased activity.

Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM), Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX,NYSE:ABX), Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), Coeur Mining (NYSE:CDE) and Goldcorp (TSX:G,NYSE:GG) have recently bought into some of Yukon’s most impressive deposits.

Yukon’s top projects and operations

“At Wheaton Precious Metals (TSX:WPM,NYSE:WPM), the jurisdiction of a project or mine is one of the most fundamental elements when assessing new streaming opportunities. Yukon continues to estab