The cost to clean up the Mount Nansen mine site, pictured, continues to grow. A Yukon Supreme Court Justice said he has “little faith” taxpayers will only be on the hook for $150 million given previous “gross underestimation” of costs. (Submitted/Government of Canada)

Ballooning cost of Mount Nansen cleanup should be ‘wake-up call’ for the Yukon, judge says

Canada has spent $40 million on remediating the mine site, estimates $110 million more needed

The cost of remediating the Mount Nansen mine site near Carmacks has ballooned to $40 million so far, with the federal government estimating an additional $110 million is needed to complete the clean-up.

A Yukon judge, however, said he has “little faith” taxpayers will only be on the hook for $150 million given previous “gross underestimation” of costs, and that the case should serve as a “wake-up call” to the Yukon.

The figures were among the details contained in a document outlining Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale’s reasons for granting a partial sealing order related to a purchase of mine assets.

The reasons are dated Feb. 25 but were only posted online this month.

The document is the latest in a legal saga that began in 1999, when the Yukon territorial court convicted BYG Natural Resources Inc., then the owner of the mine, of “three blatant breaches of its water licence,” Veale wrote. He noted the judge at the time “described these actions as ‘raping and pillaging’ with a complete disregard for the legal requirements.”

BYG abandoned the site the same year and went on to declare bankruptcy in 2004. As the mine was abandoned before devolution, that left Canada responsible for covering the cost of the cleanup.

“…(As) the liability for future mining disasters will be the obligation of the Government of Yukon, this case should serve as a wake-up call for the administrators of the Yukon Waters Act,” Veale wrote.

Financial services company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was appointed as the interim receiver and receiver manager for BYG.

The original cost of remediation was estimated to be between $4 to $8 million before nearly tripling to $23 million by 2007. That figure has only grown since then.

Veale’s reasons were related to decisions he made in 2019, after PwC applied for an order approving the sale of assets to Alexco Environmental Group Inc. and JDS Energy & Mining Inc., and an order sealing some associated documents.

The sealing order means those documents will not be accessible to the public unless another judge orders them to be unsealed.

A copy of the documents, however, in which “particularly sensitive portions and financial information details” are redacted, is still publicly available.

“Canadian and Yukon taxpayers must be kept abreast of the tremendous cost and the decades of remediation work required for the BYG mining disaster,” Veale wrote.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

miningYukon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

Yukon Party MLAs Wade Istchenko and Stacey Hassard are facing criticism for crude text messages in a group chat. (Submitted)
First Nations leaders call for stricter punishment of Yukon Party MLAs

Queer Yukon has also criticized the two individuals involved in an inappropriate group chat

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

A Yukon government sign is posted to one of the trees that have been brought down for the sewer project in Riverdale explaining the project. The area is set to be revegetated with grass when it is complete. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Planned stormsewer outfall will improve drainage on Selkirk Street

Resident raises concern over clearing as council considers agreement.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

Most Read