The Yukon Conservation Society is not opposed to mining.
Our way of living requires metals and minerals, and that means mining.
However, YCS wants well-regulated mining.
Looking at past and current mining practices it would appear that the Yukon has yet to see a well-regulated mining industry.
On September 25, the Yukon News quoted a representative of the Yukon Chamber of Mines in response to the recent public opinion survey on protection in the Peel Watershed.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines suggested that “a portion of the population Ã‰ may want a heavily regulated and impact-mitigating mining industry working in the Peel.”
Well-regulated mining would mean acknowledging that there are places where mining activities, including exploration, are appropriate and places, like the Peel Watershed, where they are not.
Recent newspaper articles show that, even in places where it has been decided that mining is acceptable, Yukon people do not feel it is well-regulated.
For example, Keno residents want the Bellekeno mine’s mill to be located at the old Elsa minesite, but government is allowing it to be built near Keno City, where it will disrupt successful tourism businesses.
Keno residents are also concerned about water quality, pointing out that baseline water studies that are needed to ensure Bellekeno doesn’t pollute are apparently not being done.
There have also been a number of letters to the editor and articles about the Minto Mine, in which Yukon people have expressed concern about the mine having a water-treatment plant that is only capable of processing one-tenth of the water it is currently releasing. This kind of situation would not happen if the Yukon had a well-regulated industry.
A recent letter to the editor also questioned the wisdom of having a territorial government that actively promotes mining also being responsible for monitoring and regulating that activity. Often this promotion and monitoring happens within the same government department.
The Yukon will only have a well-regulated mining industry if adequate resources for monitoring and enforcement are provided to a department that does not have promoting mining in its mandate.
The recent poll on Yukoners’ attitudes to the environment and the Peel Watershed shows that Yukon people do not believe that regulation of industry could protect the ecological integrity of the Peel. Only 20 per cent of Yukoners feel that roads for oil and gas and mining are likely to be reclaimed, and only 21 per cent feel that after mining, natural systems and water quality can be fully restored.
The Yukon needs mining, and the products and economic activity it produces.
But even more importantly, we have a responsibility to be stewards of the land and water for current and future generations.
To do this, Yukon mining needs to be much better regulated than it is now, including acknowledging that there are places like the Peel, where mining is not appropriate at all.
Yukon Conservation Society