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Another resource boom in Canadian Arctic?

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Faro, a small community in Canada's Yukon, is enjoying the economic benefits of the territory's mineral exploration boom, with some residents feeling optimistic that the town will become a major centre again.

Many local businesses in Faro, a town of about 350 in central Yukon, are busy catering to mining exploration projects in the area.

"It was one of those things — you was build it and they will come," Murray Hampton, who operates a local hotel and restaurant, told CBC News.

"It took quite awhile for them to come, but now they're here and it's very busy."

Hampton, who converted a former apartment building into a hotel, said its 26 rooms and the restaurant have been in big demand since the exploration boom kicked in last year.

It has also been busy at the Faro Airport, even in the usually quiet winter season, said Michel Dupont, who provides hourly weather updates and ensures safety in the airspace over the town.

"I remember when I first started here, I could spend two weeks without hearing the radio crack. So it's quite a change," Dupont said.

Feels busier, mayor says

Faro was once home to a mine that produced lead, silver and zinc from about 1970 until 1998. The federal government has since been maintaining the mine site, in part by treating water flowing from the site.

Most of the exploration work going in the Faro area is happening in the mountains outside of town, but Mayor Heather Campbell said people in the community are noticing a difference.

"It feels busier," Campbell said.

"You can see new people around, and more post office boxes are being taken. You know, it's all kinds of things."

Hampton said the exploration work is turning up promising mineral deposits relatively close to town.

"Feeling is if they keep poking around out there, somebody's going to start a mine in the neighbourhood, and we'll be able to supply accommodation for an operating mine again. We have a couple very close ones," he said.

Campbell said the town hopes to become a residential centre for any future mines in the region, by letting potential mine operators know about the benefits of housing workers locally.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.