For the mine, against the mill

For the mine, against the mill Re Alexco's choice for a mill location and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board process at the Mayo designated office: First of all I must say that the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessme

Re Alexco’s choice for a mill location and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Boardprocess at the Mayo designated office:

First of all I must say that the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Boardprocess regarding this issue is just a joke.

If this is what qualifies as a fair environmental assessment, Yukon is in serious need of an Outside review.

This process did not address any of the issues involved here, and was based entirely on assumption and speculation.

Loralee Johnstone, of the Mayo office, who is also involved with the Renewable Resources Council, has taken it upon herself to decide, on our behalf, despite our objections, that monitoring the noise, dust and threats to our drinking water would be sufficient.

The Renewable Resource Council stated in the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board process that they completely support Alexco’s plans even before all the information regarding this proposal was released.

Monitoring does nothing!

Prevention is what is expected in any modern society. The effects to our local economy and making this place unsuitable for tourism were not even addressed.

From the Mayo office’s 146-page report, statements like, “living in a mining area, we should have known that mining would return,” is a complete insult.

Mining has always been present in this area, but the proposal put forward by Alexco is by far the worse assault upon this community in 100 years.

Historically all of the industrial activity and milling in this area has always been done in the mining camp at Elsa, 14 kilometres from Keno City. True, in 1953, a mill was located near here. But that mill was considerably smaller than what Alexco plans to build, and only operated for 23 months before being closed and dismantled.

Using an excuse that it is a historic mill location is ridiculous! Does a bad decision, made 56 years ago, justify making the same mistake now?

This “new face of mining” is no better, and actually far worse than the old-face mining ever was.

The proposal as submitted for your approval will definitely cause major damage to Keno City and it seems no one in power is even concerned.

Although both the David Suzuki Foundation and Environment Canada have stated they have serious concerns regarding this proposal, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board seems completely oblivious to the fact.

What does it plan to monitor? The demise of one of Yukon’s oldest communities?

Yukon has always been subject to get-rich-quick schemes from the Outside. Historically, Outsiders have swarmed into the area, taken what they could get and left just as fast as they arrived.

But what about the people who have come here to make this place their home?

Does the interest of corporate greed and the best return for their shareholders take precedence over the people who call this place home?

Alexco has stated that it could not use Elsa as a mill site because of historic liabilities. But they presently live in Elsa, use the warehouses, shops, houses and haul the sludge from the Bellekeno mine there anyway.

Bret Hartshorne, Northern Affairs’ senior projects manager of contaminated sites, has stated in a letter sent to this community that any liabilities present in Elsa could be dealt with quite easily.

The second excuse they have come up with is the cost of hauling the ore the additional 14 kilometres to Elsa. This amounts to just cents per ounce. Meanwhile, Alexco brags to its investors that they can produce an ounce of silver here for under $2 an ounce.

Third was the condition of the Silver Trail Highway.

If you haven’t noticed, the road is in much better condition now that the Highways Department from Mayo has been allowed to remain in this area for the first summer in years, instead of being sent out to join crews in other places.

Finally Alexco has stated that Na-Cho Nyak Dun supports placing the mill in Keno City, but Alexco decided to leave out the fact that the First Nation also supports the use of Elsa for the mill location.

In my opinion, the whole mitigation regarding Keno City is nothing more than a hostile action in disguise.

Though Keno formed an advisory council, Highways Minister Archie Lang denied our request to be recognized.


Are you afraid that if you are held accountable, someone might notice the complete disregard you have for the people who live here?

Denying this community the right to be recognized as a municipality completely eliminates any power we might have had to defend ourselves from poor mining practices, and to hold government accountable for its actions.

Or, in Keno City’s case, it is mostly government inaction.

So I call on Premier Dennis Fentie and Mines Minister Brad Cathers to reject Alexco’s choice for a mill location.

Accidents and miscalculations do occur, and in Alexco’s case already have occurred.

A simple accident or miscalculation at a mill located so close to a residential community will have a disastrous effect on this community.

Keno City has no interest in becoming Yukon’s next $65-million cleanup project.

And finally, Alexco, it is time for you to live up to your propaganda.

Moving your mill to Elsa will create no fewer jobs than putting it in our community will.

We have told you from the very beginning that we would support you 100 per cent, all we asked is that you move your mill plans out of our community, and allow us to keep and improve upon what we have spent the last 20 years building here.

Tourism is a renewable resource! Mining isn’t.

You might be here now, but you very well could be gone tomorrow! It is the nature of mining, no mine anywhere, at any time, has ever been permanent!

James Milley, water systems operator, deputy fire chief and board member of the “unrecognized” Keno City Advisory Council


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