An advanced mineral exploration proposal in the Peel River watershed has been rejected by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.
The board issued its recommendation in December, but the Yukon government and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the two decision bodies, have not yet issued a decision on the recommendation.
The board’s designated office in Dawson City found that the project would result in significant adverse effects to wildlife from disturbance and displacement given the spatial overlap of project activities with key habitat areas for caribou and sheep during vulnerable life stages.
Silver47 Exploration proposed the exploration program on 779 quartz mineral claims on the company’s Michelle property located 120 kilometres northeast of Dawson and 20 kilometres north of Tombstone Territorial Park.
The location is in the traditional territories of Mayo’s First Nation of Nacho Dun and Dawson’s Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation, the recommendation notes.
It says the purpose of the project was to explore for minerals, including silver, lead and zinc.
Silver47 was proposing a five-year exploration program.
The designated office also found that the project would result in significant adverse effects to First Nation wellness and from loss of First Nation culture.
“Loss of culture is likely to occur from reduced intergenerational transfer of knowledge due to wildlife displacement and reduced peaceful enjoyment of the area due to noise disturbance,” says the recommendation.
It says providing adequate baseline data could have helped to inform the development of measures which could have helped to inform the development of measurers that could have mitigated the negative impacts.
But no baseline data were provided, the recommendation points out.
“The absence of such information, coupled with the high socio-cultural value of sheep and caribou at the project location, as indicated in the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan, and comment submissions, has resulted in the designated office being unable to recommend defensible mitigative measures.”
The recommendation says the project will result in, or is likely to result in, significant adverse effects to wildlife and First Nation wellness, water resources, heritage resources and wilderness experience.
The company did provide mitigative measures to address the general negative impact of the project except for measures to address the impact to wildlife and First Nation wellness, says the recommendation.
“The designated office found that effects to wildlife and First Nation wellness cannot be mitigated and as such has recommended that the project not proceed.”