Assessors reconsider Mactung project

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has issued new recommendations for the Mactung mine after being ordered back the drawing board.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has issued new recommendations for the Mactung mine after being ordered back the drawing board by the Yukon government.

The assessment board issued its final recommendations on the project in March.

But the territorial government, which has the final say on project, said that the board did not sufficiently consider the potential effects of the project on the Liard First Nation and the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun.

The “screening report appears to focus exclusively – or almost so – on the potential effects of the project on (the Ross River Dena Council),” according to Yukon’s decision.

It also asked the board to take another look at the recommendations regarding the proposed dry stack tailings facility, given some inconsistency between the board’s analysis of that part of the project and its recommendations.

North American Tungsten’s proposed tungsten mine is located along the Canol Road near the N.W.T. border.

In the new report, the assessment board acknowledged that the earlier report did not explicitly reference the concerns of the Liard First Nation and the Nacho Nyak Dun.

“The absence of specific references to all of the concerns and interests of NND and LFN is an oversight on the part of the executive committee,” according to the document.

The concerns of those First Nation were taken into account, however, and led to certain recommended changes to the project design.

The most significant change was that the company agreed to use an existing road through the N.W.T. to access the project rather than building a new one through the Yukon.

It had initially suggested that a Yukon road would make more sense in order to avoid a parallel assessment project in the neighbouring territory.

As a results of the further review, the assessment board has added about 30 new recommended conditions for the mine to proceed.

Many relate to increased monitoring of waste rock and water resources.

The board recommended that American Tungsten submit an updated water management plan to First Nations, Yukon and Canada.

Sarah Newton, lands manager for the Liard First Nation, said on first review it is unclear how the board has accommodated the First Nation’s concerns in the new recommendations.

They seem to be recommending a lot more data collection and monitoring, but that may not be enough to satisfy the First Nation’s concerns, she said.

Newton said she will be seeking explanation and clarification from the assessment board before reaching a conclusion on the acceptability of the new report.

To date, the company has been much more receptive to the concerns brought forward by the First Nations than the assessors have, she said.

Now the Yukon government must consider the board’s new recommendations and determine if it has met their request.

If the territory finds that the board still has not sufficiently accommodated the concerns of the First Nations, it may send the report back to the board for reconsideration.

The Mactung project has been in the environmental assessment process since 2008.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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