Western Copper Corporation’s Casino property 300 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse. Officials with the proposed mine said the mine proposal will take another two years. (Submitted/Western Copper Corp.)

Casino taking more time with mine proposal

Statement not expected to be submitted to YESAB until Dec. 31, 2021

Officials with the proposed Casino mine planned west of Carmacks will wait another two years before submitting a required document to the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB).

A letter addressed to Laura Cabott, chair of YESAB, dated Dec. 18, 2019 from Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells states officials are now aiming to complete the mine’s environmental and socio-economic statement — which will outline the company’s proposal— by Dec. 31, 2021.

The letter does not specify why the corporation is taking an extra two years from its most recent anticipated statement date of Dec. 2019.

“As always, I look forward to working with you and the executive committee, and in moving through the panel review process in a fair and transparent manner,” West-Sells wrote in the letter. “We will be sure to inform you if the date of submission changes.”

The most recent decision to take more time on the statement came a year after mine officials last announced a delay in 2018.

At that time, West-Sells said the company wanted to take more time to determine the best method to deal with waste from the mine.

While it’s not clear why the company is again taking more time on the statement, Yukon Conservation Society mining analyst Lewis Rifkind said he’s pleased to see officials are not rushing to get the mine up and running, but rather appear to be looking at concerns around the potential project which has been proposed as the largest mine in the territory.

“We’re glad to see this approach,” he said.

While plans may have since changed, Rifkind said the most recent documents available raise a number of environmental concerns.

“YCS had major concerns,” he said, highlighting both the tailings dam and the impact of the access road on local caribou herds as major issues.

With any big mine project, water treatment is also a major issue and something that needs to be dealt with.

Though the reason mine officials are taking more time on the statement isn’t clear, Rifkind said he’s hopeful it may mean they are taking the environmental concerns seriously and examining how they may be mitigated or plans altered to address them.

He noted the proposal will still have to go through a substantial, formal YESAB approval process after the statement is submitted.

“There’s still a long way to go,” he said.

According to the most recent plans available to the public, the open pit copper and gold mine is anticipated to produce 8.9 million ounces of gold and 4.5 billion pounds of copper over its anticipated 22 to 55 year life span.

Officials with the mine have previously stated $2.5 billion in spending is anticipated in getting the mine into production, with up to 1,000 workers employed during the construction phase.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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