Letter to the Editor

Power to the people Recent press coverage and letters to the Editor regarding the Sherwood Copper/Yukon Energy Agreement to provide grid power to…

Power to the people

Recent press coverage and letters to the Editor regarding the Sherwood Copper/Yukon Energy Agreement to provide grid power to the Minto Project seems a bit negative, to say the least.

Lost in the coverage is the fact that Yukon Energy needs to develop new markets and revenue sources in order to maintain the present rates charged to Yukon consumers.

To have the utility rates remain in a steady state, revenues need to increase parallel with the increasing costs of production of power.

March 31 will see the end of the Rate Stabilization Fund subsidy.

With the conclusion of that rate subsidy, Yukon Energy will have no choice but to increase the rates charged to its existing customers.

Rates will surely increase unless new customers are found and added sales occur.

The Minto Mine is the first of what we hope will be many opportunities for YEC to increase sales, production and profits as a result of mining activity, thereby staving off the need to increase rates to domestic consumers.

The new millennium has brought with it some harsh realities for the mining industry.

The cost of electrical power is now second only to transportation costs when determining the feasibility of any given mine operation.

For example, the Canada Tungsten Mine reports an average cost of 32 cents per kilowatt-hour to produce diesel-generated power on site.

You and I pay about 10 cents per kWh to power our residential homes.

The cost of diesel power generation at Minto was forecast to be on the order of 24 cents per kWh when the feasibility studies were completed in 2005/2006.

Enter $60-plus per barrel world oil prices and the current number significantly eclipses Cantung’s costs.

In general terms, the life expectancy of a mine is based on the amount of ore available that is above a certain cut-off ore grade.

This cut-off grade is determined largely on the basis of the cost of mining and milling the ore.

Lowering the mining costs in turn lowers the cut-off grade and results in a longer mine life.

In my humble opinion, the most responsible course of action that our public utility could embark upon in order to ensure long-term rate stability would be to take every available opportunity to ensure a consistent and economical source of power for each and every new mine that opens in the territory.

The more time, energy and money that Yukon Energy invests in assisting mines to achieve longevity, the longer it will be before Yukon residents see substantial increases in their monthly power bills.

John Witham, president, Yukon Chamber of Mines

Local businesses slapped around by YTG

How does the Yukon government define sole sourcing?

I have to wonder after reading JoAnne Harach’s comments last week.

Norm Smith and several other contractors must be asking themselves the same question after the Yukon government handed a $52,000 contract to Dominion Construction for window coverings and called it “construction management.”

Harach states the contract did not go out to public tender, so calling it sole sourcing is incorrect.

Harach cites time constraints in her reasoning for this sizable handoff.

Yet in a different article she states an invitation for cabinetry will be going out for tender.

To my thinking, it takes a far sight longer to manufacture and install cabinetry than it does window coverings.

Smith and the other contractors must be feeling the sting in knowing the Yukon government considers their businesses to be of less value and consideration than other local companies, let alone ones based outside the territory.

I am dismayed with this latest act in what has become a tragic comedy.

Each week, more mishandling of contracts associated with the Games comes to light. It would appear the government feels it need not follow the regulations it has in place to prevent such mismanagement of my tax dollars.

If I had some remnants of faith left in the government, I would suggest Smith follow the bid challenge process the Yukon government has in place to deal with complaints regarding the tendering process.

My concern is his complaint will be treated with the same cavalier attitude the government has shown to other contractors, namely Lebel and McGrath Decorating.

Sheila Fraser’s audit of the Games this fall may prove embarrassing for government officials and could improve the tender process in the future.

However, it will do nothing to correct the gross inequities local contractors are suffering right now.

Awarding $52,000 to Dominion based on a looming deadline may not be sole sourcing in Harach’s books but I have a hard time swallowing “construction management” as a reasonable explanation.

I feel something more than a polite response to the contractors who lost the opportunity to ply their trade is required.

As a Yukoner, “I’m sorry about that,” does not address the fact our territory is $52,000 poorer for incompetent planning on the government’s behalf.

Name withheld by request

Kindness lives

I would like to thank the Air Canada employee who took me home on Monday night.

I forgot to ask that woman’s name, but I’m sure she will recognize herself.

The company called her in the middle of the night to take care of the late plane.

It was about 2 a.m. when we landed. As I arrived with a delay at the Vancouver airport (from Winnipeg), my backpack didn’t arrive with me, leaving me without my winter coat.

I am glad to notice that helpfulness has not vanished from our globe. I don’t think I would have had a similar service in another city in Canada.

I would also like to thank the follow-up service.

When I called on Tuesday to see if my backpack had arrived, they quickly delivered it to my home downtown (within 30 minutes).

Charles Laberge

Whitehorse