Letter to the Editor

Benefits for all I am writing to comment on a recent advertisement placed in the Yukon News by an anonymous payee regarding the mining industry.

Benefits for all

I am writing to comment on a recent advertisement placed in the Yukon News by an anonymous payee regarding the mining industry.

The advertisement “Show us the money from mining” blatantly misstates the situation with respect to the mining industries, and I believe your readers deserve to understand the benefits mining brings to Yukon.

The advert states the Yukon Mineral Advisory Board is comprised of “mining CEOs paid to advise the government…”.

As chair of that board, I can categorically state that the board members receive absolutely no compensation, not even expenses, from the government or anyone else.

All board members volunteer considerable time and effort to assist the government in developing a competitive mining environment in the Yukon, to the benefit of all Yukoners through employment, business opportunities, taxes and royalties.

Further, the advert suggests the board is comprised of all mining CEOs whereas the eight-person board includes a mining contractor, an independent consulting geologist, an environmental consultant and the chief of a First Nation.

The other four representatives (mining executives) are involved in some of the most advanced projects in the Yukon and are therefore pioneering the resurgence of mining in the Yukon. And, as leaders, they have a good idea as to what needs to be fixed to get a vibrant mining industry flourishing in the Yukon.

And Yukon does need fixing in order to attract mining investment.

Yukon has just gone through a period of several years without a single operating hardrock mine in the territory, which means no jobs, no taxes, no royalties and no contracts.

This is something the mineral advisory board and Yukon are trying to change.

But mines will not be built in a poor regulatory and fiscal environment; it’s easier to just go somewhere else.

Yukon and the mineral advisory board are working together to make Yukon competitive with other jurisdictions (this just means similar to other places).

For example, the Quartz Mining Act royalties in the Yukon, for large mining projects, could exceed 100 per cent of operating cash flow (since the royalty is dollar based, not profits based).

Clearly this is unsustainable and will prevent any large mining projects from being developed in the Yukon.

Even for medium-sized projects, the potential royalty levels are excessive.

Yukon is the only jurisdiction in Canada with such a punitive royalty regime and, as a result, capital will go elsewhere rather than face such a penalty.

This is but one example of regulatory change the mineral advisory board and Yukon are working together to fix — to provide a comparable environment to other regimes in Canada so Yukon can attract mining investment.

The lack of mining over the past many years has led to a skilled labour issue in Yukon, hence the co-operative arrangement worked out between the federal and Yukon governments, which is designed to assist companies in taking on the training of unskilled workers to develop a mining labour force from within the territory, as opposed to importing skilled workers from elsewhere.

Further, this effort is very much focused on the First Nation communities, who are not only those located in closest proximity to the mines but also keenly interested in seeing their youth find highly paid, skilled jobs in chronically underemployed areas.

This is something not only Yukon, but all its citizens should be proud of, not slammed for.

Mining can have a significant beneficial impact on local employment — even a relatively small mine like Minto employs, directly and through contractors, perhaps 180 people, a significant number of which are First Nation members, and many more people are indirectly employed through service and supply companies that support the operations at the Minto mine.

Better these jobs remain in the Yukon, but that requires training.

The advert also references the cost of the transmission line development.

My company, Sherwood, is making a substantial contribution to the main transmission line ($7.2 million to the main line, not including the spur line to Minto, of which we are paying 100 per cent of the cost).

Further, Sherwood has a take-or-pay contract (i.e. an obligation to purchase, regardless) for $12 million worth of electricity from Yukon Energy, an amount that will probably be significantly exceeded given the resource base at the mine.

This is power that YEC is currently “throwing away” through a lack of customers (and note that the recent use of diesel is nothing to do with the Minto mine, which is not even hooked up yet, but related to Yukon Energy issues with two turbines).

Since Yukon Energy is already generating this power, but cannot sell it, the Minto mine’s power purchases will significantly enhance Yukon’s energy sales, which should benefit all Yukoners.

Essentially, Yukon is getting a significant contribution to the upgrade of its power infrastructure … infrastructure developed as one of the many spin-off benefits of the Minto mine.

This line will also take Pelly Crossing off diesel generators and, once the second leg is completed to Stewart Crossing, will allow the integration of the Yukon grids for the first time, to considerable benefit of all Yukoners.

This would not have happened without the Minto mine.

While I have just touched on some items in response to the advert, to answer the question posed therein, “What do Yukoners get in return?”

They get well paid jobs, investment in developing Yukon’s infrastructure, enhanced skills for its people, royalties, taxes … all of which is subject, of course, to there being any mines, which needs a competitive fiscal and regulatory regime.

That is why industry, First Nations, and the territorial and federal governments are all working together to foster the development of a sustainable mining industry in the Yukon, providing long-term benefits to its people.

Stephen P. Quin, president & CEO, Sherwood Copper

Corporation

Vancouver, BC

Unnecessary killing

This is going out to the jerk driving the white truck on Friday morning travelling east on 12th Avenue, just off Centennial Street, who didn’t even attempt to stop to avoid killing the young fox which was trying to cross 12th Avenue.

My two young children and I live on this street and were delighted to watch this young fox every morning when he would quietly sit along the side of the road in all his glory. We felt honoured to have this small piece of nature so close to us. My kids were so excited this morning to see him again on Friday, but were horrified when they witnessed you mercilessly hit that young fox, sending him into the air and killing him.

What a nice scene for my children to witness.

In the Yukon we are privileged to share our environment with beautiful wildlife, and that privilege should be cherished.

Would it have killed you to slow down to the speed limit and, just stop for one second and let that poor animal get across the road?

I don’t understand people like you who have no compassion — it makes me sick to my stomach.

Name withheld

Whitehorse