Assessors underestimate Mactung’s wildlife impact

Assessors underestimate Mactung's wildlife impact Open letter to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board: The Mactung mine is planned in the Selwyn Mountains, at the end of the North Canol Road. You describe the area as displaying "th

Open letter to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board:

The Mactung mine is planned in the Selwyn Mountains, at the end of the North Canol Road. You describe the area as displaying “the highest diversity of mammals in the Taiga Cordillera of the Yukon,” including several federally recognized species at risk.

The barrens that start a few kilometres from the proposed mine have been identified by the United Nations as a place of unique and outstanding natural heritage.

You admit that there are no baseline studies about wildlife. There is no indication about the seasonal distribution or density of any species.

There are concerns that the current harvest level of mountain caribou may be unsustainable.” The grizzly bear population in the vicinity of the project has a “mortality rate just under threshold of sustainability.”

Caribou and bear will be displaced respectively from their identified calving and post calving areas and denning areas. Caribou’s spring and fall migration will be restricted.

Opening of the North Canol for 12 months rather than three, as a direct consequence of the project, will result in additional hunting. It will also make exploration activities much easier and cheaper and generate more industrial development, further impacting nearby wildlife.

Despite all these findings, you dismiss the whole issue of cumulative effects in one sentence. You consider that all these damaging effects can be mitigated by “increased monitoring and development of adaptive management plans” that will be undertaken by North American Tungsten (NTC).

Do you seriously consider that a mining company, whose sole reason to be in this area is to generate profit, has the integrity and the capacity to conduct thorough wildlife studies? Not to mention that NTC has no regulatory power to implement any management plans on Crown land!

If YESAB wants to live up to its duties, it should have the courage to say that NTC has no means to mitigate the harmful effects of the Mactung mine.

YESAB encourages the Yukon government, in general terms, to address some of these issues but at the present time, there is no land planning on its way. There are no wildlife studies scheduled. No commitment was made to preventively reduce hunting and the effects of increased exploration and mining activities are not even acknowledged.

If the Yukon government wants high value areas like the Selwyn Mountains to be opened to industrial development, these are the steps that need to take place beforehand. If the government fails to do so, YESAB must recommend that this project be not allowed to proceed.

YESAB shockingly favors the financial interests of one private company, disregarding the public interest, especially the interest of the three most affected First Nations to preserve the integrity of this fragile and uniquely rich environment not only for subsistence reasons but also for its spiritual importance.

Allowing Mactung mine to proceed under the current conditions makes a mockery of the very concept of an environmental assessment, it propagates a shameful disregard towards First Nation’s aspiration and it will cause an irreparable damage to Yukon’s natural heritage.

Doug Hannah


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Another election, another anomaly

Monday’s “double-tie” election is generating some free publicity for the Yukon as Outside news agencies scramble to find someone to interview.

A cyclist rides along the Millenium Trail in downtown Whitehorse on a frigid Feb. 9. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of an e-bike bylaw that would designate how e-bike riders can use city trails. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
First two readings passed on Whitehorse e-bike bylaw

Delegate calls on city to consider age restrictions and further regulations

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/ Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Most Read