Carmacks Copper court case dropped

The Vancouver-based exploration company that wants to develop the controversial Carmacks Copper deposit has abandoned its court battle with the Yukon Water Board.

The Vancouver-based exploration company that wants to develop the controversial Carmacks Copper deposit has abandoned its court battle with the Yukon Water Board.

In a Jan. 3 news release, Copper North Mining Corp. said it’s decided to drop its appeal of the Yukon Supreme Court decision, which upheld the board’s authority to reject the controversial heap leach project. Copper North is a new company, created by Western Copper and Gold, to deal with the project.

Copper North still wants to develop the deposit into an open-pit mine, the news release said.

But rather than contest the board’s right to deny it a water licence, the company instead wants to beef up its engineering plans to allay fears the proposed mine may pollute its surroundings.

“An initial review of proposed project changes at the Carmacks Copper project has commenced and detailed engineering studies to support the proposed changes will be undertaken in the first quarter, 2012,” said Sally Eyre, Copper North’s CEO and president, in the release.

The project involves plans to douse massive rock piles with sulphuric acid to separate the copper from the ore. Critics, including the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, worry the run-off could pollute the salmon-bearing Yukon River.

Until now, the company had argued the water board didn’t have the authority to reject a licence application for a project that was a lready cleared by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ronald Veale disagreed.

To force the water board to agree with the assessment board’s findings “would completely eviscerate the licensing role of the water board,” Veale ruled.

With copper reserves of 10.6 million tonnes, the Carmacks mine is expected to have a life of at least six years. The company says it could employ as many as 250 workers during construction and 180 workers during production.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com

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