Let’s amend the Quartz Mining Act

Let's amend the Quartz Mining Act Amidst the current "mining boom" within the territory, there has been a considerable amount of concern raised by Yukon residents about how our mineral resources are being extracted, the quality of oversight conducted by

Amidst the current “mining boom” within the territory, there has been a considerable amount of concern raised by Yukon residents about how our mineral resources are being extracted, the quality of oversight conducted by the regulatory regime and the efficacy of remediation efforts by mining operations.

The current territorial Quartz Mining Act was originally created to address the hard rock mining industry after the historic gold rush. Since that time, not much has changed.

During the recent territorial election, concern was raised over the current royalties paid out to the territory from the capital generated by mining companies. The majority of the letter submissions to the newspaper revolved around the requests to amend the current royalty rates of 37.5 cents for every ounce of mineral extracted. This royalty is specific to the Placer Mining Act and this rate does not apply to hard rock royalty rates.

The current Quartz Mining Act does have higher percentile rates on the annual royalty payments required from the mining operations. They came into effect in May 2010.

On the other hand, the amendment also brought about the change that companies are able to write off eligible capital costs that are deductible as depreciation allowance, at the rate of 15 per cent, until the original capital cost of the asset is fully claimed. A depreciation asset means tangible property, other than land, used in the operation of a mine and having an original capital cost of over $10,000 and an expected useful life of more than one year.

Additionally, these deductions extend to any of the pre-production capital costs and development expenses which may be carried forward throughout the life-span of the mine (or until these costs have been fully deducted).

Currently, there is no definitive clause within our legislation, which elaborates on what a deductible operating cost is. Rather than bolstering our own economy through the companies mining “our resources” out of the ground, we are allowing corporations from outside the Yukon to continue funneling funds back into their companies and distributing substantial dividends to their shareholders.

The Yukon is on the fast track of a boom-and-bust economy with no regard to future generations of the territory.

The current lease period for a minesite is 21 years at a low cost of approximately $100. This is a long time frame, which poses far too great a risk for unnoticed, irreversible environmental impacts to occur. The fees associated with the lease of these claims do not significantly convey the responsibilities that should beset upon the leaser of the claim.

A tract of land may be leased as a mill-site to process the ore. According to the act, the definition of a mill-site is “a plot of ground leased under section 119 for the purpose of erecting on the plot any machinery or other works for transporting, crushing, reducing, or sampling ores or for the transmission of power for working mines.”

The size of a mill-site is limited to five acres but there is no specification within the act as to how many “mill sites” may be used for any mining operation. How much does it currently cost to lease a mill-site? The insignificant rate of $1 an acre (per annum), which is payable yearly in advance from the date of application for the lease. I am sure an advanced payment of this magnitude will leave many companies hard pressed to dish out a Christmas bonus.

To make amendments for these prehistoric sections within the Quartz Mining Act would go a long ways in helping to clarify my definition of “sustainable development” within the territory.

We have a significant amount of mineral deposits right under our feet. Rather than catering to the needs of outside mining companies by exercising low standards for mining operations, we could have them conforming to our high-standard regulations and ensuring that our backyard is not compromised for a quick buck.

The fact of the matter is that mineral-starved countries will, ultimately, pay any price to acquire the resource.

Let’s establish a standard, limit the amount of annual mineral extraction and the dividends from this effort will keep flowing into the territory for many years to come!

Ray Sabo

Whitehorse

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

Just Posted

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

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

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read