Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
The draft Yukon Mineral Development Strategy, released Dec. 28 after 16 months of work, is wide-sweeping with recommendations that reverberate right through the Yukon’s mining and exploration industry.
It calls for rewriting both the Quartz Mining Act and the Yukon Placer Mining Act.
The strategy recommends a much greater role in oversight of the industry by Yukon First Nations, and greater procurement opportunities for First Nations. It recommends greater opportunities for First Nations to gain equity in mining projects.
It suggests an overhaul of the collection resource revenue royalties.
The strategy recommends the promotion of mining in the territory be transferred from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources to Economic Development to eliminate any perception of conflict of interest.
It recommends greater efforts in the classroom to educate Yukoners on the benefits of mining, to offset the negative legacies left behind by the industry in the past.
The 40-page document contains eight encompassing recommendations, with dozens of sub-recommendations to achieve the eight primary recommendations.
The panel of three who produced the strategy have set Feb. 22 as the deadline to provide comments on its recommendations.
Ed Peart, the president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, said in an interview this morning the strategy is an important document that deserves a thorough analysis, and the chamber intends to do that in preparation of its feedback.
“This is an important document, it is a big document and deserves the analysis really, and the chamber of mines is going to do that,” Peart said.
He said there are many aspects and implications of the recommendations that need greater scrutiny.
There are some red flags, such as rewriting the two major pieces of legislation that guide the territory’s mining industry by the end of 2023, he said.
Peart noted the emphasis on the relationship between the industry and First Nations is of great importance, though he also emphasized how the three operating mines in the territory have already gone above and beyond in that regard.
Victoria Gold has established a solid partnership with the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun regarding its Eagle Gold Mine north of Mayo, particularly in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Peart said the same can be said about Alexco Resource and its Keno Hill silver operation, and about Pembridge Resources and its Minto Mine in the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation.
“These recommendations, we have to understand just what all of this means, and the Yukon government wants to understand and the industry wants to understand what it means,” he said. “Every recommendation will get analyzed, certainly, and we will do what we need to do.
“I think it is important to know that this document has the potential to have a real impact on the way we do mining in the territory.”
Mining, said Peart, is a primary driver in the Yukon’s economy, as is being evidenced during the pandemic.
There has to be balance, and the Yukon is the best place in the world to advance that balance, he said.
Peart said he would encourage all of the chamber’s members to read the document and provide their comments.
The chamber is there to assist if any assistance is needed, he said.
The foundation for the panel’s work was created in 2017 with the Mining Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Yukon government and the Council of Yukon First Nations.
The panel was appointed in April 2019 to guide the development of a Yukon Mineral Development Strategy.
The panel was chaired by Angus Robertson, a former Yukon government deputy minister.
Also appointed to the panel was Math’ieya Alatini, former chief of the Kluane First Nation, and Doug Eaton, a geologist with extensive experience working in the Yukon.
The strategy points out the total value of mineral production in the Yukon over the period 1988 to 2018 ranged from a low of $34 million in 2003, to a high of $542 million in 1989, and averaged $256 million per year.
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