The territorial government and Yukon First Nations with Final Agreements have approved a recommendation from the Mining Memorandum of Understanding table to require notification of Class 1 mineral exploration activities across the territory as of April 1, 2020.
The proposed notification regime would ensure the government and First Nations are aware of Class 1 mining activities across the territory, the parties said in a statement earlier this week.
It will also allow them to address potential impacts on treaty rights through consultation.
First Nations and the government are working together to develop and apply upgrades to the online Class 1 Notification System in time for the 2020 field season.
These upgrades are intended to help support industry by expediting the 25-day review period for operators whose activities have the very least impact on the environment.
“It is important that we balance the need for Class 1 notification with the mineral industry’s need to efficiently proceed with their work,” said Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai.
“This is a longstanding issue and collaborating with First Nations to address it reflects our government’s commitment to improving Yukon’s mineral resource management system and provide greater certainty for industry.
“I am proud of the respectful and co-operative relationship we have with Yukon First Nations and the good work we are doing together to improve our territory’s mineral regime for the benefit of all Yukoners.”
“The work of the Mining Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Yukon and Yukon First Nations is resulting in positive changes to regulatory processes,” said Peter Johnston, the Council of Yukon First Nations’ grand chief.
“Every step counts in our efforts to ensure collaboration on mineral development in Yukon.”
Mineral exploration activities are identified as Classes 1 to 4 by specific thresholds in the Placer Mining Land Use Regulation and the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation.
Class 1 activities are those which are considered to have low potential to cause adverse environmental impacts. Class 1 activities do not trigger a Yukon environmental and socio-economic assessment.
The recommendation on Class 1 will require regulation and legislative amendments before it can be implemented.
Officials are researching options to implement notification of Class 1 mineral exploration activities across Yukon for the 2020 field season.
Class 1 notification and review is currently in place in about 50 per cent of Yukon: within Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s traditional territory; within the asserted traditional territories of all Yukon First Nations without Final Agreements; within the territories of the Taku River Tlingit; within the Peel Watershed area; and on Category A and B First Nation Settlement Lands.
The Yukon Forum has endorsed the Mining Memorandum of Understanding.
That agreement between the government and First Nations commits them to work collaboratively to improve mineral resource management.
“Self-Governing Yukon First Nations are pleased to make this progress,” said Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph.
“We remain committed to managing mining activity in Yukon in a way that is consistent with our agreements and meets our government-to-government aspirations and obligations for environmental protection, economic prosperity, social and fiscal benefits and the preservation of First Nations culture.”