Whitehorse Daily Star

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MINE PROPERTY TRIGGERS FIRST NATIONS CONCERNS – The Kudz Ze Kayah property, now the subject of a request for a judicial review, is located 115 kilometres southeast of Ross River.

Ross River Dena Council seeks judicial review of mine project

The Ross River Dena Council (RRDC), on its own behalf and on behalf of the Kaska Nation, has filed an application in Federal Court for a judicial review of a decision involving a major mining proposal. The filing was made July 15.

By Whitehorse Star on July 26, 2022

The Ross River Dena Council (RRDC), on its own behalf and on behalf of the Kaska Nation, has filed an application in Federal Court for a judicial review of a decision involving a major mining proposal. The filing was made July 15.

The June 15 decision was made by the Yukon government, Natural Resources Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

It permits BMC Minerals Ltd.’s proposed Kudz Ze Kayah Project to proceed within Kaska territory, subject only to regulatory permitting.

The Kudz Ze Kayah property is located 115 kilometres southeast of Ross River.

The RRDC issued a press release last Sunday outlining its objections to the proposal.

The Kudz Ze Kayah Project involves the construction and operation of a large industrial copper, lead, and zinc mine, entailing intrusive open-pit and underground mining methods in the Finlayson Lake area, says the press release.

The project is proposed in the heart of the Ross River area of the Kaska Territory, over which the Kaska Nation holds and has exercised constitutionally protected Aboriginal title, rights and interests since time immemorial, the release notes.

The project is also located within important habitat of the Finlayson caribou herd, in a critical area actively used by these caribou for rutting, and for travelling through to access calving areas.

The herd’s population has been in decline for several years, due in large part to the cumulative effects of industrial development in the area, including past mining projects in close proximity to the Kudz Ze Kayah Project.

“The Finlayson caribou herd holds special importance to the Kaska Nation, including with respect to the exercise of their constitutionally protected Aboriginal title and rights,” the release said.

Chief Dylan Loblaw notes the following in respect to the critical importance of this area to his community and the Kaska Nation.

“Not only is the Project proposed in a place of refuge for the Finlayson caribou herd, but this area also contains sacred burial grounds, and a historical caribou fence built by our Nation to manage and sustain the herd in accordance with our traditional practices,” Loblaw said.

“These sacred sites are of the utmost importance to protect and respect the future our culture, our children and the biodiversity that thrives in gudzi kayah!

“The federal and territorial decision-makers have allowed this project to proceed without Kaska consent with their decision, and with meaningful consultation with our Nation still outstanding, which will devastate the Finlayson caribou herd, and our inherent Kaska rights to manage this vulnerable caribou population – the cumulative effects will ultimately be too great to manage,” the chief added.

BMC Minerals is planning a mine life of 10 years, following two years of construction.

The company expects to process two million tonnes of ore annually, producing 7.8 million ounces of silver every year along with 180,000 tonnes of zinc, 60,000 tonnes of copper and 35,000 tonnes of lead.

BMC is anticipating having a workforce of some 300 when the mine is in operation and between 350 and 400 during construction.

It has estimated it would cost $376 million to bring the mine into production.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board did recommend the project be allowed to proceed, and both the Yukon and federal governments agreed.

Governments do not make media comments on matters before the courts.

RRDC’s application for judicial review alleges multiple failings by the Yukon and Canada to comply with the Crown’s constitutional duty to consult the Kaska Nation prior to making a decision allowing the Kudz Ze Kayah Project.

“RRDC has brought the application on behalf of the Kaska Nation as a whole, and is encouraged by the support and solidarity of the Kaska Nation in uniting to protect Kaska rights and title from being irreparably harmed by the Kudz Ze Kayah Project,” the release said.

Comments (3)

Up 6 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Jul 29, 2022 at 3:15 pm

They don't want a negotiated self government agreement, they want the power to veto anything proposed for their land quantum.

Up 28 Down 10

Joe on Jul 27, 2022 at 10:41 am

The cariboo population is in decline because kaska doesnt manage its own citizens hunting practices. I haven't been able to hunt Finlayson for the past 20 years so it ain't my fault.

Up 31 Down 9

My Opinion on Jul 26, 2022 at 11:10 pm

Bla Bla Bla. Why don’t they sign their land claim? They can’t agree on anything not even with the other Kaska groups. It’s hopeless to negotiate with people who are just chronically apposed to everything.

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