Carmacks Copper opponent wins stewardship award

While his name isn't actually David, the Yukon Conservation Society is recognizing Robert Moar for taking on and defeating a real "Goliath.

While his name isn’t actually David, the Yukon Conservation Society is recognizing Robert Moar for taking on and defeating a real “Goliath.”

“With this Carmacks-Copper-proposed mine, we feel, that the company had a lot of financial and legal resources,” said Karen Baltgailis, executive director of the society.

“The First Nation stood up to this company, and really, also to the Yukon government, which seemed quite eager to see the project go ahead. And, against very stiff odds, achieved success in protecting the Yukon River and salmon habitat.”

Moar was essentially the guy who did most of the work, Baltgailis said.

As the director of lands, resources and infrastructure for the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, Moar did the research, found the experts and gave advice on how the First Nation should plead its case during the seven-day Yukon Water Board hearing for the Western Copper Corporation’s water licence.

The proposed mine, 38 kilometres northwest of Carmacks, wanted to use heap leach technology. Sulphuric acid is poured on top of the ore pile to bring out the copper.

There is a predicted reserve of about 10.6 million tonnes of copper there, but the heap leach technique has never been proven safe in a climate like the Yukon’s, said Baltgailis.

For seven years in the 1990s, Moar worked in mining exploration in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Northern Saskatchewan.

“His own knowledge of mining was also very crucial to realizing this project was one that really, the environmental impacts could not be mitigated,” said Baltgailis.

The water board agreed and denied the company a water licence.

The company appealed the decision in Yukon Supreme Court, making the case that the water board overstepped its jurisdiction by denying a water licence after the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board and the territorial government had already approved the project.

The court upheld the water board’s decision, clarifying its independent role in the environmental assessment and regulatory regime in the territory.

The company initially appealed the court’s decision, but earlier this month announced it had changed its mind.

But Moar had already won the award, said Baltgailis.

“We didn’t know that they were going to drop the appeal at the time he was chosen,” she said. “But he had already been successful in getting the water board to say no to the project, so we felt fairly confident that this project was not going to go ahead. But it was actually an amazing coincidence that the same week that we were preparing a media release about Robert winning, that we got this very good news.”

Moar may not know he’s won the 2011 Gerry Couture Stewardship Award. He is currently traveling on holiday and is not expected back until February, said Baltgailis.

But before he left, Moar was told he had been nominated for the medal, which includes a prize of $1,000. He has since been notified by email that he won.

Not only was Moar’s work on this case successful in stopping a mine, which he argued could have horrific effects on salmon-bearing waters, but he was also able to get the ball rolling on legal clarification and strength of the territory’s assessment and regulatory regime.

“It is setting a precedence,” said Baltgailis.

Moar now holds a seat on the Yukon Water Board.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at roxannes@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read