Yukon Chamber of Mines makes curious claims

Yukon Chamber of Mines makes curious claims Would you have some doubts if I told you that Yukon mining is the sole source of metals and minerals used to make computers, televisions, bikes, musical instruments, and medical devices? Wouldn't you want some

Would you have some doubts if I told you that Yukon mining is the sole source of metals and minerals used to make computers, televisions, bikes, musical instruments, and medical devices? Wouldn’t you want some solid proof for such an unusual statement?

What if the Yukon Chamber of Mines, an organization that should know about these things, told you the same? Now, it becomes more serious and carries more weight. There’s room for concern and even fear. If Yukon mining collapsed tomorrow, would we really lose all these valuable products? According to a recent ad series in local newspapers, the chamber seems to think so.

These ads are clear in their claims. They use three main elements that work together to make their point: a paragraph, tagline, and photo. The paragraph claims that something you probably value depends not just on mining, metals and minerals but specifically on Yukon mining, metals and minerals. The tagline reinforces the idea and ensures you haven’t misunderstood: “What would you miss in a Yukon without mining?” The photo shows what would supposedly be missed.

This series is probably in response to public concern over the Peel, fracking, and even the Slinky mine in Dawson eating its way toward the Dome road. Many people have spoken in favor of environmental protection and/or restrictions on mining activities.

Anyone who believes these ads could honestly, but mistakenly, think that their families, personal health, or access to certain products are at risk without Yukon mining. This belief would make a good disincentive to any future objections about Yukon mining activity.

If the Chamber believes that so much relies on Yukon mining then proof should be easy to find. What could be considered conclusive? If Yukon mining is the only provider of certain minerals then the ad claims would be true. Now, where to look for evidence?

First I emailed several questions to the Chamber. I thought they would be a good source of mining information and would be able to back up any claims made in their own advertising. All I got was a polite single line reply thanking me for my input, but no answers to my questions.

Alright, where next? The Natural Resources Canada website has a very useful mining statistics section.

Apparently all the minerals mentioned in the Chamber’s ads (gold, silver, zinc, and copper) are mined in many places outside the Yukon. Gold is mined on every continent except Antarctica. So any claim to exclusivity doesn’t work.

What if we try another approach: maybe the Chamber meant that Yukon is a majority producer of minerals in general? That doesn’t work either: in 2009 the Yukon contributed 1.5% of the total value of metals mined in Canada. One point five per cent.

No exclusivity, no majority.

Let’s try one last thing: maybe I’ve misinterpreted the ads? Here’s one that says: “Yukon mining, metals, and minerals give us the elements that make life-saving diagnostic equipment possible for our hospital.” Leave out the word Yukon and there’s no problem, but they not only include Yukon they add the tagline to dispel any doubt about their meaning: “What would you miss in a Yukon without mining?” A far as I can tell, this can’t be interpreted any other way.

I have no idea how the Chamber came to the conclusion that lies at the heart of this ad series. Do you?

Pat Johnson

Whitehorse