Put a buffer in place

Put a buffer in place Re suburban mining: The Yukon Conservation Society urges the Yukon territorial government to work with Dawson City to resolve the Slinky Mine disruption of the Dome Road and associated industrial activity immediately adjacent to the

Re suburban mining:

The Yukon Conservation Society urges the Yukon territorial government to work with Dawson City to resolve the Slinky Mine disruption of the Dome Road and associated industrial activity immediately adjacent to the Dome Road subdivision.

In this particular case, the YCS believes the wishes of the residents, reinforced by the bylaws and regulations of Dawson City, outweigh the archaic rights of the mining sector.

Even in such a pro-mining legislative environment as the Yukon there is a Human Rights Act that does state that “every individual has a right to the peaceful enjoyment and free disposition of their property, except to the extent provided by law, and no one shall be deprived of that right except with just compensation.”

This could boil down to being interpreted that mining and residential neighbourhoods are not compatible.

Thanks to the lack of resolution of this ongoing issue, it is worth noting that there are other Yukon examples of this incompatible land use.

The impacts of the development of the Bellekeno mine on the residents of Keno is one.

The property owners in Spruce Hill and Golden Horn who now find their land is staked and that there could be exploration work happening right up to their property lines is another.

And the users of the Mt. McIntyre cross-country ski trails who could see their trails displaced by mineral exploration is yet a third.

Municipalities and the Yukon government can easily resolve this.

Municipalities should ask for, and the Yukon government should then issue, a one-kilometre buffer around subdivisions where staking, mine exploration and associated mineral extraction activity cannot occur.

Existing claims within this zone should be negated.

There has been some reference in the media that mining companies in these affected areas would be looking for some form of “buyout” of the claims in question.

To resolve this, all interested parties should negotiate an appropriate solution that might or might not include a “buyout.”

Given that the miner only paid $10 to register each claim, the concept of perhaps offering millions of dollars as compensation for negating a claim seems highly unrealistic.

Also, it must be noted that the mining company does not own the gold that is in the ground. That gold belongs to all the people of the Yukon.

Ownership of that mineral only passes to the mining company once it has been extracted and a royalty has been paid to the Yukon government.

As an aside, it is worth noting that the royalty on placer gold is ridiculously low. The royalty is two and one-half per cent of its value as it was in 1918, that of $15 per ounce.

If the Yukon government were serious about obtaining a fair royalty payment it would charge the royalty on today’s price of gold of over $1,500 per ounce.

But still, until even the current ridiculously low royalty is paid, the gold belongs to the Yukon, and not to the company.

This should mean that no compensation has to be paid for any minerals that have not yet been extracted.

Negotiate with the companies to get them out of those Yukon communities that want them gone and establish wide buffers around residential areas that are free of mining activity.

After all, peace and quiet in one’s home is way more precious than gold.

And in the Yukon it might just be a human right.

Lewis Rifkind

Mining co-ordinator

Yukon Conservation Society

Whitehorse