I would like to address the Yukon Party regarding the mining act.
It makes me wonder if the Yukon’s policy of having one of the slackest mining codes in the country Ã and just meeting the minimum standards acceptable in Canada Ã is in any of our best interests.
With the recent problems with contaminated water at Minto being dumped into the Yukon River, or what is going on here in Keno City, with the location of the mill, it seems that proper planning is no longer necessary in the Yukon.
Fifteen-year-old weather data resulted in the mess at Minto, and the whole YESAB proposal here regarding Keno City was based on speculation, assumptions, and a desktop study regarding drinking water. This was still approved by YESAB, and rubber-stamped by this government!
We all know the costs involved in cleaning up the last wave of mining’s mess. Faro is a good example of this, where the cleanup will more than likely cost more than any profits that were actually made there. Or here in Keno, where ERDC and Access Consulting (Alexco group of companies) have come up with a $65-million figure for the cleanup here.
It is the people of Canada who are paying for this, but it will be the people of the Yukon who will be stuck with the bill for this new wave of mining if it is not done properly. Bad planning brings about unexpected results, a simple oversight could result in a disastrous and expensive situation.
Big business is based solely on profit, and mines are the most unstable of the lot. A simple change in the market can, and has, resulted in mines disappearing overnight Ã and an out of business mine will not be paying for any cleanup. We all know that any money put aside to guarantee that cleanup will be done after they leave, never comes close to covering the bill. It will be Yukoners who are left to pay the remainder. The mines are simply here to exploit our resources; once the “loot” is gone, so are they. The majority of the politicians who are allowing this to happen will probably be off to warmer climates to spend their fat government pensions, and we will be left here with the results, and costs, of their bad planning and lax regulations.
Meanwhile, back here in Keno, Alexco and its group of companies, are engaged in a study to identify historic artifacts in, and planning for, the removal and cleanup of the old mine camp at Elsa. Commendable, but Elsa, where Alexco lives and makes use of the old United Keno Hill Mines facilities, and is the former mill location, is a gated secure area that is never frequented by tourists.
Meanwhile, in the Keno City area, which is visited by thousands of people a year, Alexco plans on constructing a mill, and we will have nine-metre-high tailings piles stacked on our very doorstep! Wouldn’t you think that the areas lived in by Yukoners and visited by tourists would be the first areas to be cleaned up? Instead, we will be turned into a mill town and left with a mess that will have to be monitored long after Alexco and this government are nothing but a memory.
Doesn’t this all seem completely ass backward to anyone in this government? Instead of just one location to contain the tailings left from their operations, Elsa, Alexco plans on starting here in Keno City and then moving this mill all over the valley and creating multiple sites, any one of which could result in another environmental disaster long after these guys are gone.
For the last 100 years, based on practical experience, water released from the old mill and mines in the Elsa area was discharged into the wetlands below Elsa and Calumet for a reason, to act as a buffer between the mill and the river Ã common sense. This was also the reason ore was trucked from the various mines in this area to Elsa for processing. But Alexco’s plans will dump the mill water directly into Christal Creek and down on to the South McQuesten River. This makes no sense at all. The salmon in this territory are in sad shape as it is. But when profit margins are more important than environmental issues, mines will always act in their own best interest, and when everything is based on greed and profit, it is always others that are left with the results of their actions.
But is it not our elected officials who are responsible for protecting the interests of its citizens? Evidently, this government has no interest in protecting anything but its own self-interest, and is quite prepared to OK anything, provided the price is right!
I would tend to agree with Willard Phelps in his wish to see this government held accountable. And would encourage any members of the Yukon Party that have any ethics left at all, to walk across the floor, or to sit as an Independent.
Bring down this government! Let an election decide if Dennis Fentie is right or not. I would have more faith in having the destiny of this territory decided by the people of the Yukon in an election, over any decisions made by an out-of-control government. I do not trust this leader, whose past activities included jail time for drug trafficking, to decide for me what is in my best interest. I would also encourage any other Yukoners who see serious problems with Dennis Fentie’s government to contact their MLA and convince them to take a stand against this administration.
Finally I would like to congratulate the First Nation chiefs in their choice to recommend the creation of a national park in the Peel district. This is a prime example of enlightened thinking. A national park will provide benefits from this area for generations to come, instead of making a few “fat cats” fatter in the short term.
Given the choice here in Keno, I would much prefer to live in a gateway community to a new national park, (the Wind River Trail starts here) than a dirty, dusty, noisy mill town, any day! Especially since putting a mill here in Keno City is not necessary at all Ã‰ just convenient for Alexco.