Controversial Mactung road withdrawn

North American Tungsten has withdrawn its proposal to build a new road to its Mactung mine site through the Yukon from Ross River.

North American Tungsten has withdrawn its proposal to build a new road to its Mactung mine site through the Yukon from Ross River.

Instead, the company will use the existing spur road that extends off the North Canol Road and cuts through the N.W.T. for about eight kilometres.

CEO Steve Leahy said the decision to kill plans for a new road was made for two reasons: feedback from the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board and a streamlining of the N.W.T.‘s regulatory process.

“When we initially submitted our proposal, we had a new road that avoided using the existing spur road in the N.W.T. because of regulatory entanglements,” Leahy said.

“Years ago there was a significant difference because of the complexity between Ottawa and Yellowknife. Ottawa had ultimate control in the N.W.T., whereas the Yukon had already gone through devolution, and essentially controlled its own resources. But now N.W.T. is moving quickly towards devolution, and I think there is a different attitude among the regulators that is more hands-on and local. It’s way better, in my opinion,” Leahy said.

Stephen Mills, chair of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, said he’s happy to see North American Tungsten use an existing road instead of cutting a new one through the Yukon, which would have had significant environmental impacts.

“I think it’s a very positive decision that North American Tungsten has chosen to remove this very contentious new road from their proposal,” said Mills.

“I think the message was loud and clear to everyone that the proposed road was not one that was favoured by the First Nations and the communities, especially with an existing road already there,” he said.

Mactung straddles the Yukon/N.W.T. border outside of Ross River. It is touted as one of the largest tungsten deposits in the world, and seven per cent of it sits in the N.W.T. The mine’s infrastructure will be contained on the Yukon side of the border, but because impacts will be felt in both territories, Mills said that YESAB will work closely with the Mackenzie Valley review board to assess the road and the impacts of the proposed mine.

Another big regulatory concern has to do with the company’s water treatment plans at Mactung. Questions now being asked include, “‘How do you deal with potential access to water at the site, should you have climate events or precipitation events (like heavy rainfall or snow melting)? Do they have a reasonable amount of storage capacity that they expect for those events?’” Mills said.

North American Tungsten is now putting the finishing touches on a water treatment plant at its Cantung mine. If the plant works as planned, it will reclaim water from their tailings ponds and redirect some of it to the mill to prevent waste, while discharging clean water back into the nearby river. The same type of treatment system is planned at Mactung.

Mactung’s assessment work is still a few months away from completion. Mills said it’s now up to the company to provide answers on their plans to manage water and waste at the mine.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Kimberly Armstrong, creator of Glimmer of Hope, poses for a photo with examples of toys for packages she is putting together. The care packages are for children who have suffered abuse, trauma, illness or sudden loss. (Kimberly Armstrong/Submitted)
Kids experiencing trauma will receive gifts from new charity

A Whitehorse woman is compiling care packages for children who have suffered… Continue reading

Commissioner of Yukon Anglique Bernard, in her role as Chancellor of the Order of Yukon, announced the 2020 Order of the Yukon inductees in a statement Dec. 2. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Order of Yukon inductees announced

Ten Yukoners will receive territory’s highest honour

The primary goal of the new relief package for tourism operators is to support the tourism sector, whether they’re private industry or not-for-profit organizations, said Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Relief program offers funds for businesses that rely on tourists for more than half their revenue

Two new streams of funding, in addition to the accommodation relief program, were announced

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Climate emergency, lite edition

Back in September 2019, Whitehorse City Council declared a climate emergency, to… Continue reading

Yukon Employees’ Union says a lack of staff training and high turnover at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter is creating a dangerous situation for underpaid workers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Employees’ Union says lack of training at emergency shelter leading to unsafe situations

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said the staffing policy “is evolving”

A sign outside the Yukon Inn Convention Centre indicates Yukoners can get a flu vaccine inside. As of Dec. 4, the vaccinations won’t be available at the convention centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse Convention Centre ends flu vaccination service early

Flu vaccinations won’t be available at the Whitehorse Convention Centre after Dec.… Continue reading

In 1909, Joseph Kavetzki took over Brown’s Harness Shop, depicted here, reconstructed, 90 years later. Third Avenue in Dawson, south of Princess Street, was the heart of the blue collar industrial section of gold rush Dawson. (Michael Gates/Yukon News)
History Hunter: The Yukon is rich in hidden history

I had worked for a few months in my new position as… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Kindness, shingles and speed limits

Letters to the editor published Dec. 4, 2020

ASDF
COMMENTARY: Land use planning must include industry

Carl Schulze Special to the News This commentary is a response to… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White River First Nation to run for councillors in the 2021 election. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News File)
White River First Nation to elect new chief and council

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White… Continue reading

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new councillor in a byelection held Dec. 3. (Wikimedia Commons)
Watson Lake elects new councillor

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new… Continue reading

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Most Read