Better devolution deal on the way

The Yukon will keep a greater share of its resource royalties thanks to a new devolution deal in the works, Premier Darrell Pasloski announced Monday.

The Yukon will keep a greater share of its resource royalties thanks to a new devolution deal in the works, Premier Darrell Pasloski announced Monday.

Currently, the territory can only keep the first $3 million earned annually from mining royalties. Anything more is clawed back by Ottawa.

The new agreement would be far more generous, allowing the territory, at its current size, to keep annual resource revenues of up to $41 million.

The territory hasn’t hit its royalty cap yet. But, with more mines on the way, some fear that the territory may fail to cash-in without a new agreement in place.

To take one dramatic example, if a mine is ever built at Western Copper Corporation’s massive Casino project, it could generate $250 million a year in royalties.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed to negotiating a more advantageous agreement when he visited the territory last week, said Pasloski.

Tick off another campaign promise for the premier. When he stumped to become the Yukon Party’s leader in the spring, Pasloski pledged to haggle a better devolution deal for the territory.

The goal was spurred, in part, by the Northwest Territories’ signing of a deal in January to draw down control over its natural resources. Its agreement is considerably more advantageous than what the Yukon has now, and is similar to what the Yukon now seeks.

The premier expressed hopes the deal could be finalized in coming months. But first he needs to consult with Yukon’s First Nations, which face similar constraints in collecting royalties from mines on their land.

Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell cheered the news. He’s called for the Yukon to strike a deal similar to the NWT’s.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson repeated her calls for a “comprehensive” review of Yukon’s royalty fees, which she argues are priced too low.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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