Time for an overhaul of our regulatory system

The Yukon Chamber of Mines was very disappointed to learn of the 44 jobs lost by employees of Pelly Construction. Pelly Construction, the Byram family, and their employees are all part of the Yukon. We can all be proud of the contributio

COMMENTARY

by Samson Hartland

The Yukon Chamber of Mines was very disappointed to learn of the 44 jobs lost by employees of Pelly Construction.

Pelly Construction, the Byram family, and their employees are all part of the Yukon. We can all be proud of

the contributions that they have made to improve the social fabric of the territory with their support of the Yukon Hospital Foundation, Mount Sima and many other causes and charities that are too numerous to mention.

It is uncertain how large a role permitting delays in Minto mine’s expansion played in the layoffs. The Yukon Chamber of Mines would like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that there are serious deficiencies in our current permitting system.

The timelines and costs to successfully permit mineral exploration and mining activities in Yukon have increased significantly, and this is resulting in direct and indirect job losses and a lowering of the competitiveness of Yukon as a place to invest.

An efficient, timely and fair permitting process is in the best interests of all Yukoners. The chamber of mines is not advocating a less stringent permitting system, regulations, or environmental and social economic reviews of projects, but we are advocating for an improved and more efficient and streamlined environmental assessment and permitting process.

Projects such as Capstone’s Minto mine and Alexco’s Keno Hill silver district have been through the YESAA process numerous times for various mine plan changes. These projects are adding resources that are very similar in nature and proximal to those already permitted.

One would assume that the knowledge from previous assessments would result in reduced permitting timelines and costs for operating mines, but this unfortunately has not been the case, as the current environmental assessment process requires these projects to essentially start all over again for routine mine plan expansions.

Alexco has recently submitted a project proposal for the Flame and Moth deposit, an underground mine that sits directly below the already permitted and built Keno District Mill. This assessment will represent the ninth time Alexco has gone through the YESAA process since 2006.

Given the extremely high volume of exploration projects in recent years, the opportunity to review the efficiency of the process to review and permit exploration and make improvements to the current system exists.

The current system creates a workload that not only adds costs to the companies or individuals making applications but to Yukon First Nations who have limited resources, numerous Yukon government departments, and other non-government organizations.

There must be a solution to create a more efficient, fair and timely permitting and environmental and socio-economic review process in Yukon. It will take the co-operation of the Yukon government, federal government and Yukon First Nations to help solve this urgent issue.

The Yukon Chamber of Mines, its partners and members are proud to represent a modern, responsible mining industry whose goal is to generate a vibrant economy with the least amount of impact on the environment for the benefit of all Yukoners, First Nations, and Canadians.

Samson Hartland is executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines.