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Lewis Rifkind

Public invited to comment on Casino’s mammoth proposal

The wheels are starting to turn on what will be the first panel review in the Yukon under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

By Chuck Tobin on April 6, 2016

The wheels are starting to turn on what will be the first panel review in the Yukon under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

The assessment board on Monday issued an invitation to the public to provide input into guidelines that will form the basis of the information the Casino Mining Corp. must provide the panel to ensure an adequate review.

Casino is proposing to build the largest open pit mine in the Yukon’s history – largest by a long shot.

The public has until May 19 to provide input on the 82-page document available online or over the counter at either the board’s central headquarters in Whitehorse or at one of the six designated offices across the Yukon.

Once the input is received, the assessment board’s executive committee has given itself 14 days to finalize the guidelines, officially termed the Environmental and Socio-economic Effects Statement.

Lewis Rifkind of the Yukon Conservation Society explained this morning this is an opportunity to ensure any issues or questions one might have are addressed in the project proposal.

If, for instance, one has a question about the potential threat of earthquakes to the tailings dam, individuals can look to see if the matter is raised in the draft guidelines, and if not, provide input, he pointed out.

He said if somebody thinks the proposal should discuss the history of earthquake activity in the area going back hundreds of years instead of 10, for instance, they can say so.

This is an opportunity to tell Casino what type of information should be included, Rifkind said.

At lot of it, he added, has probably been already addressed in the previous review of the project at the executive committee level.

Rifkind said after the company delivers its official proposal is the time to sit down and assess if you agree or disagree with the project or specific aspects of the project.

The conservation society has an issue with the proposed height of the tailings dam, and will be saying so when it comes time to comment on the project specifics after the proposal is received, he pointed out.

“The Executive Committee is not seeking views on the project proposal previously submitted by CMC or whether you agree with the project,” says the assessment board’s notice of the guidelines sent out Monday.

“At this stage, the objective is to specify the information CMC should be required to include in its ESE Statement (project proposal) for the Casino Mine Project.”

Under the process, the panel will not be established until the executive committee is satisfied the project proposal is in sufficient detail to begin the official review.

The initial project proposal submitted to the assessment board was under active review by the executive committee for about 18 months, up until the executive announced in February it felt the project should be elevated to a panel review. It’s the first project to go before a panel since the assessment board opened it doors in 2005.

The executive committee explained in February it decided to elevate the project to a panel for essentially two reasons.

“A, the project involves technology that is controversial in Yukon, and B, the project might contribute significantly to cumulative adverse environmental or socio-economic effects in the Yukon.”

A panel is a quasi-judicial body with greater authority than the executive committee, including the ability to subpoena witnesses, call evidence and issue orders.

Casino is proposing to build the largest open mine in the Yukon’s history, dwarfing the former Faro lead-zinc mine.

It’s anticipated processing of ore will top out at 120,000 tonnes per day, compared to the 12,000 tonnes a day at Faro on a good day.

The tailings dam will be among the largest dams in the world, standing 286 metres high and spanning 2.5 kilometres.

The company maintains the positive impact for the Yukon economy will be enormous, and for Canada as well.

The decision by the executive committee to elevate the project to a panel review almost two years into the review by the committee raised concerns among the mining and business community over certainty in the review process.

Comments (14)

Up 1 Down 43

How many mines in Canada and how many have harmed the environment? on Apr 12, 2016 at 11:51 am

There are 1000's of mines in Canada but give the sights where there was harm done. There is three in BC for sure and two in the Yukon and one in Ontario that I can find.
All the new ponds have very heavy liners in them and there is no toxic material that can be left in the ponds.
There has been more damage done by arm forces bad practices, and other industry uses like the tank farm in Whitehorse than mining.
The same goes for oil and gas development.
A lot of misleading, misinformed misunderstanding of the facts.

Up 21 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Apr 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm

The thing is pro mining granny, that I am neither pro or anti on mining but when surrounded by such a strong and vocal anti-everything crowd even the slightest bit of support for a few specific projects makes one appear pro-mining.

And speaking of science (eng) if they don't rip through the permafrost and right into solid bedrock with lots of grouting to anchor the dam then they are asking for trouble.

Up 24 Down 16

pro mining granny on Apr 10, 2016 at 10:25 am

What is the data on permafrost meltdown? Meaning, is the rising temperature a factor in assessment? I think it's clear PS Greenie is pro mining with limited pseudo science and no green input.

Up 36 Down 11

Josey Whales on Apr 9, 2016 at 7:45 pm

The cleanup should involve cleaning the dam and tailings at the end of the mines life at a cleanliness level that will allow it to go into the river.

Who can argue with that?

Up 25 Down 6

YTGuy on Apr 9, 2016 at 8:40 am

Have some time to post some thoughts while the 7018 is in the oven. Got some build up work in the shop today.
So I've read that this is supposed to be a 70 year mine, and one can take that with a large grain of salt, but what's going to happen when the mine is shut down? We are paying for, and will be paying for, the maintenance of the Anvil mess for years if not decades to come. What about 100 years from now? What's the plan long after Western Copper has reaped the profits and buggered off? What certainties and guarantees do we, or will we have that the money is in place for proper remediation? The politicians are great ones for making concessions to these big companies, and if you don't believe that, you can make a quick check of the board of directors at Golden Predator. This tailings damn is not one that can be walked away from, this is a major deal. It will fail at some point. That's a certainty. Not if, when. Maybe 100 years after completion, but it will. Then what? If I was one of the First Nations who's had territory this project occupies, I'd be asking some pretty pointed questions.
Gotta go burn some rod and make some money.

Up 125 Down 55

Cliff on Apr 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm

What guarantee is there that's this tailings lake will not leach out into the surrounding water table? Who are the Engineers? What is their experience?

Up 28 Down 82

jim on Apr 8, 2016 at 2:51 am

There are so many options on the table and all are being discussed by an independent panel with Yesab and its consultants. Company does not dictate anything, whole design open for change. They have implemented all the Mount polley recommendations. it is just too bad to push it to the wall right away. Casino is a rare asset and its life is well over 70 years. Let it be discussed with mitigations, I am sure this rare asset will benefit everybody. Just don't put a China spin on it.

Up 53 Down 7

Bobby Bitman on Apr 7, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Problem is, PS Greenie, that's not what they are proposing. So far as I am aware the only proposal is this dam. If they were to propose eliminating the tailings dam, and instead dry stacking and replacing the tailings in the pit (something that occurred to me already and I'm no mining expert), that would do away with my absolute opposition to this mine. It would completely allay my fears of environmental disaster. Maybe putting it all back in the pit doesn't work well either, environmentally, but so far as my knowledge goes it sounds like a very good idea.

I would still ask them what the estimates are of additional deaths on the highway (est. done by an actuarial), the cost for highway maintenance, what other infrastructure the public and our ecosystems will be on the hook for in order to provide them with energy, guarantees that jobs would go to Canadians - for what that's worth, and I'd hope people more informed than I would be asking the questions geared to maximizing the net benefit for the Yukon and for Yukoners, particularly those who live near the mine (Little Salmon FN).

I would not mind seeing some good jobs and some economic activity up there, and hopefully some further investment in the community to give back.

Up 60 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Apr 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm

How about a series of smaller tailings ponds Bobby Bitman. Or temporary dry stacked tailings placed back in the pit afterwards. Surely there are other options that should be put on the table but not sure why they are not there. The company needs to get a second opinion from another consulting engineering firm if they want a chance of going forward.

And for the mid-East experienced dude, the salmon are not useless and I care about them as they are very yummy and a big part of the ecosystem. No reason why we can't have lots of mining jobs and a healthy environment with lots of salmon. No need to be pigs while going about mining.

Up 208 Down 100

Bobby Bitman on Apr 7, 2016 at 1:05 pm

PS - Archie Lang is now a director of the company that currently owns the Casino Mine project. Just thought I'd throw that out there for people to consider.

Up 97 Down 17

Bobby Bitman on Apr 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Move on to 10x the daily volume of ore that Faro produced.

Are there any actuarial reports on how many extra human deaths on the road this will likely result in? How many more animals will be killed?

Any engineering reports on extra maintenance on our highways, and extra staff required at weigh stations? What will the cost be to the public on that file?

Is this mine the reason we are being asked to sacrifice another enormous swath of the Yukon by flooding beautiful valleys to provide massive amounts of electrical power to the mining industry?

Who will own the mine? With all of our trade deals I would imagine the money to develop it will come from the highest bidder and usually that means the Chinese government. Take a look at the Wolverine Mine if you want to see how much respect they have for maintaining their mines after the place shuts down. Look down to Tumbler Ridge to see how willing they are to hire Canadians to do the work. I'm not saying China WILL end up the majority shareholder of this mine, but this is a question I would ask and there is nothing we could do to stop them, thanks to Canada's loss of sovereignty in favour of corporations and foreign governments under trade and investment deals.

I'll stop there for now, but this is seeming like the same old walk through the steps on our way to selling out the Yukon, that I have seen before.

Up 92 Down 24

Bobby Bitman on Apr 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm

It took me over a day to comment because I can't believe this fiasco is even being considered. A tailings dam higher than First Canadian Place (the tallest office building in Canada). Higher than the Hoover Dam. Do the research, these dams burst on a regular basis - look no further than the Poly Dam in BC about a year ago.

But ya, this dam is going to last FOREVER. It is just so outlandish, so ridiculous, so diametrically opposed to the well being of the Yukon, that I am shocked that our government is even going so far as considering saying yes to this disaster in waiting.

It is not a matter of if the tailings dam is going to fail, it is a matter of when. And when it does, it is going to be apocalyptic. There is no mitigation possible, nothing, that we could ask of this proposed mine in order for them to provide the funding to maintain this dam in perpetuity, until the end of time, until the end of civilization on earth, so why are we considering it?

I cannot express how deeply I object to this project.

Up 27 Down 135

Things more important than on Apr 6, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Always negativity from anti everything NDP and liberals. Jobs for Yukoners are more important than other issues like salmon that no one uses. Yukon party showing leadership and caring for Yukoners! I have experience on this issue and the tailings dam is safe for us. Where are anti everything liberal and NDP leaders on this issue? I have experience on this in Middle East
Thank you

Up 21 Down 5

north_of_60 on Apr 6, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Publishing a link where the public can comment on-line would have been useful reporting Chuck.

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