Assessment board says Dawson mine a no go

Dawson City residents concerned about a placer mine on the Midnight Dome Subdivision are breathing a little easier this week.

Dawson City residents concerned about a placer mine on the Midnight Dome Subdivision are breathing a little easier this week.

On Monday, the Yukon Environmental Socio-Economic Assessment Board turned down Darrell Carey’s Slinky placer mine.

Last summer, Carey applied to mine an area of the Dome subdivision that he has had legal claim to since 1998 and 1999.

Carey is hoping to mine two separate areas of land, including a section directly beneath the Dome Road.

His project, were it to go through, would see up to 40,000 m3 of soil stripped per year for 10 years.

It would also require him to use existing ski and bike trails and re-route the Dome Road.

The assessment board determined that the proposed project would have “significant” adverse environmental and socioeconomic repercussions.

Soil erosion and surface water runoff from the use of heavy machinery stripping sensitive areas of the Dome was one concern.

Reduced air quality and the adverse effects on fish in Dominion Creek and other wildlife in the area were also flagged.

So too was the potential to lose an extensive network of heavily used ski and bike trails.

Traditional lands of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in could also be at risk

“The area has the potential for a variety of heritage resources to be present,” read the report.

Even the sight of the operation alone could cause troubles.

“The likelihood of tourists or those interested in viewing the workings of a “real placer mine” at this location especially or along the Klondike Highway can create a dangerous situation (for motorists and pedestrians) resulting in injury or death.”

But the most problematic thing was allowing a placer mining operation smack in the middle of town, even though it’s legally allowed.

The threat of lowered property values, emotional stress and

“decreased enjoyment of the area,” were some of the issues residents raised to the assessment board.

“I only have one reaction to the report,” said Dome resident Shirley Pennell after reading the recommendation.

“I’m pleased.”

Pennell was worried about the project creating safety hazards, excess noise and air pollution for nearby residents.

“A lot of us (in Dawson) submitted reports to YESAB all expressing concerns about mining within city limits,” she said.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board fielded 81 different comments.

Although the board came out against the project, Pennell isn’t holding her breath.

“It’s not the end of it, I’m sure.”

That’s because the project could still be given the green light from the Yukon government.

Last week, Dawson Mayor Peter Jenkins announced the town will hold meetings with the three other levels of government and the placer and quartz mining industry.

Up for discussion will be land use and mining conflicts within municipalities.

In 2003, the Yukon government banned miners from staking placer claims inside municipalities. But that only applied to new claims, allowing older claims, like those owned by Carey, to exist.

And quartz mining claims can still be staked anywhere in the territory.

“It’s really just our marching orders for all levels of government to sit down and get this sorted out,” said Dawson Councillor Wayne Potoroka in response to the assessment board’s recommendation.

He’s been fielding calls from miners and residents for the last couple weeks. The issue has polarized people in Dawson, a town that has long supported the mining industry.

“What you have are competing sets of rights, both with equal validity,” said Potoroka.

But he’s not surprised by the assessment board’s decision. There were too many adverse effects to Dawson residents, he said.

Dawson will bring the issue forward to the Association of Yukon Communities during its April meeting in Dawson.

Representatives from the Yukon Placer Mining Association could not be reached for comment on the issue.

Randy Clarkson, the engineer representing Carey, also refused comment.

Klondike MLA Steve Nordick didn’t return calls.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com