Feds are key to making mining work in the North

Samson Hartland The Yukon Chamber of Mines is engaging in the 2015 federal election to ascertain party and candidate positions on Yukon's resource-based economy. We have submitted questionnaires to all four candidates and have publicly released the resul


by Samson Hartland

The Yukon Chamber of Mines is engaging in the 2015 federal election to ascertain party and candidate positions on Yukon’s resource-based economy. We have submitted questionnaires to all four candidates and have publicly released the results. In order to provide context to those responses, the Yukon Chamber of Mines will outline key priorities for the industry as we face uncertain times.

The mining industry is one of Yukon’s largest private sector employers and is the largest private sector contributor to Yukon’s economy, contributing close to $400 million dollars and accounting for 18 per cent of Yukon’s real GDP. These economic benefits permeate all sectors of Yukon’s economy, from the knowledge sector to tourism, government to retail, the service and supply sector and a myriad of small businesses.

Positive legacy benefits from mining are experienced by all who live here. The communities of Whitehorse, Dawson City, Mayo, Keno City, Faro and the power and transportation infrastructure that connect them and other Yukon communities are in one fashion or another a positive legacy of mining. So much of the infrastructure, as well as the recreational and cultural features which enrich our lives today, are the legacy of mining and exploration activity in Yukon.

However, we all know there are some challenges to be faced ahead while experiencing a downturn in the global economy, coupled with geo-political uncertainty here at the territorial level.

The good news is that we have an ability to reverse uncertainties through increased research, consultation and a harmonization of the regulatory process, in order to ensure we remain a competitive and attractive jurisdiction to invest in once the markets do turn around.

The questions we have asked Yukon’s four federal candidates fall into the following categories: First Nations relations and engagement, infrastructure development, and investment attraction.


First Nations relations  and engagement

The Yukon Chamber of Mines has advocated over the past year for all orders of government to work respectfully and collaboratively on resolving issues outside of the court room. Through the Umbrella Final Agreement and devolution, the federal government still maintains a pivotal role in the development of Yukon’s resources. Numerous Yukon First Nations, the Yukon government, and the federal government have all indicated they are supportive of resource development. However, the ever evolving legal landscape has made it challenging for proponents to navigate. What is unclear is how exactly the federal government meets its obligations associated with the duty to consult. To date, it has evolved through court decisions, and this method of governance is costly in both time and money, and damages existing relations between all parties.


Infrastructure development

Earlier this year the Yukon Chamber of Mines co-authored a report with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and Mining Association of Canada entitled “Level the Playing Field.” In it, readers learned that the cost of developing a mine in Canada’s North is inherently more expensive than our southern counterparts due in large part to a lack of critical infrastructure such as energy and roads. In fact, mines in Yukon cost twice as much for producing gold mines, and 2.5 times more for other base metals over southern counterparts. Operating costs were also 30-60 per cent higher. These costs are a barrier to investment and render numerous projects uneconomic. The report recommends an increase to the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for northern projects as well as numerous other tax incentives, in order to “level the playing field” for proponents.


Investment attraction

At the 43rd Annual Yukon Geoscience Forum and Trade Show this November, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will be providing a presentation on their successful infrastructure investment bank. Created in 1967 by the State of Alaska, they are a quasi-independent self-funding entity which provides loans and guarantees for major infrastructure projects and provides a return on investment for Alaskans. The fund began with seed funding of $100 million (which has since been repaid to the state) and has grown to $1.33 billion today. The incredibly successful model has supported projects such as the Skagway Ore Terminal, which is 100 per cent owned by AIDEA, the connection of the Red Dog Mine to a transshipment facility and numerous other resource development projects which faced challenges getting resources to market.

Yukon is ranked No. 1 in the world for its mineral potential and geological occurrences, beating out jurisdictions such as Alaska and Australia. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us and all orders of government to ensure that we are an attractive jurisdiction to invest in, while profiling Yukon as a leading example of how to balance environmental protections along with mining development.

A healthy mining industry positively impacts the lives of all residents of the Yukon. It is therefore key that each candidate demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of how the industry should move forward, at a time where the federal government is embroiled in legal battles which impede industry progress.

The federal government should support, regulate and be a partner to local governments, industry and First Nations, rather than an opponent in the courts.

Please visit www.yukonminers.ca to learn more.

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

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

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read