Yukoners deserve more answers on mining’s local benefits: Hanson

Opposition NDP leader Liz Hanson is defending comments she made last week about procurement practices at the Minto mine.

Opposition NDP leader Liz Hanson is defending comments she made last week about procurement practices at the Minto mine.

She says that there is a perception that operating mines spend little money in the Yukon, and that it’s unreasonable for the Yukon Party to attack her for asking for more information.

At Minto, “actual procurement of everything from, I would say, toilet paper to lettuce to whatever, comes in on big trucks, on pallets, from Outside, and nothing is sourced locally,” Hanson told the legislature last week.

In response, Mines Minister Scott Kent accused her of having a flawed understanding of mining’s impact on the territory.

Capstone Mining Corporation later reported that it had spent $78.1 million in 2013 and $58.2 million in 2014 in the Yukon, not including wages paid.

Hanson later said that her intention wasn’t to make a factual claim, but to push the minister to provide better data about the economic impacts of mining.

“The job of the opposition is to ask questions about how the government of the Yukon decisions, and what kind of data it has around various parts of our economy.

“Don’t accuse somebody asking a question in good faith of somehow trying to undermine a whole industrial sector.”

Most of the money spent by Minto in the territory is made up of contracts with Yukon companies, including major mine contractor Pelly Construction.

The company does not track where its subcontractors go on to spend their money and source their products, a company spokesperson said.

It should really be no surprise to learn that Minto’s toilet paper and lettuce come from Outside, as there is no local toilet paper factory and only limited, seasonal lettuce production.

Minto, like the territory overall, must rely very heavily on imported goods, including food, fuel and construction materials.

Hanson said the government should do a better job of tracking the industry’s economic impacts and communicating that to Yukoners.

“I really do think that the government has used a lot of language around the benefits of mining as a major pillar of our industry. And they look puzzled when people ask a question. And it’s like, you can’t just go on the myth, you have to be able to demonstrate it.

“It’s so unusual that we have a government that’s so loathe to be able to provide basic data to its citizens.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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