Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Andy Carvill represented the territory’s chiefs at the annual Cordilleran Roundup in Vancouver this week.
“There’s a lot going on in the Yukon with respect to the (mining) industry,” said Carvill in a telephone news conference on Thursday.
“They’re starting to look north into our area and, with that in mind, I felt it was important that I would attend something like this.”
First Nations must be involved in mining projects on their land, and they are interested in pursuing economic opportunities with the industry, Carvill told mining executives.
First Nations, not just the Yukon government, must attend these functions, he said.
“We don’t want (Premier Dennis Fentie) speaking on behalf of the First Nations,” said Carvill. “It’s incumbent upon myself, as grand chief and also the mandate I’ve received from the chiefs, that the premier doesn’t represent us.
“I am the First Nation representation in the Yukon for the chiefs; I speak for the chiefs.”
This year’s roundup hosted more than 5,500 industry executives from as far away as South America and Europe.
During the meeting, Carvill participated as a spectator and used the trip to learn more about the industry and its players, he said.
A recent memorandum of understanding between Carcross-Tagish First Nation and Tagish Gold Corp. is just one in a series of agreements between industry and Yukon First Nations in the pipe, said Carvill.
At the roundup, First Nations officials from Fort McMurray, Alberta, asked Carvill and CYFN to visit the community to explain the Yukon’s model of aboriginal governance and how it works with the mining industry, he said.
“In places like Fort McMurray, the relationship isn’t so good,” said Carvill.
CYFN may send people to the community, he said.
deal, or no deal
By Tim Querengesser
Yukon Energy Corporation has missed its self-imposed deadline.
Despite promising to sign a power purchase agreement with Sherwood Copper by the end of January to provide grid electricity to the Minto mine, YEC still has no deal to speak of.
“There’s not an agreement yet, but I’m told it’s close,” said YEC spokesperson Janet Patterson in an interview Thursday. “I know that it was their hope and wish to have one by the end of January.”
In late December, YEC released the terms of a proposed power-purchase agreement it reached with Sherwood following nine months of negotiations.
That term sheet was submitted to the Yukon Utilities Board and interveners already involved in the review of the utility’s 20-year plan.
It garnered almost unanimous criticism.
Under the framework agreement, YEC will build a 138-kilovolt grid extension from Carmacks to Pelly Crossing and a 25-35-kilovolt line to the mine by 2008.
The utility’s cost for both extensions is expected to be about $24 million.
The power-purchase term sheet YEC released commits Sherwood to pay $7.2 million towards the utility’s costs and to buy $24 million in power between 2008 and 2016.
But Sherwood will only pay interest on the extension line for four years before it has to pay YEC’s expenses for building it.
Critics fear the agreement puts YEC and Yukon ratepayers at risk because Sherwood doesn’t have to pay for the line right away.
They fear Sherwood could skip town when it’s time to pay and leave ratepayers with the bill, just as several mining companies have done in the past.
The finalized deal will be filed with the utilities board, said Patterson.
And in a news conference on Wednesday, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang committed the government to putting the deal up for public scrutiny.
“There will be public consultation and there will be a thorough overview of whatever comes out of the negotiation between Minto and the (Yukon) Energy Corporation,” he said.
That commitment has been echoed by YEC.
“We’ve always said the agreement will go before the Yukon Utilities Board,” said Patterson.