Critics concerned by Casino mine plan

The giant Casino mine, if it is ever built, could be an environmental disaster for the Yukon, warns a local conservation group.

The giant Casino mine, if it is ever built, could be an environmental disaster for the Yukon, warns a local conservation group.

“These big projects tend to leave bid headaches and big problems,” said Lewis Rifkind, the Yukon Conservation Society’s mining co-ordinator. “I don’t know if the Yukon is ready to deal with a project of this size.”

Western Copper and Gold Corp. this week submitted a proposal for the $2.5 billion mine to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. The project is located 150 kilometres northwest of Carmacks.

It is by far the largest mine proposal that the Yukon has ever seen.

The plan is to process 120,000 tonnes per day over a 22-year mine life.

By comparison, Capstone Mining Corp.‘s Minto mine currently processes under 4,000 tonnes per day.

The project would employ 1,000 people during construction and 600 people during operation, generating $274 million in economic activity for the Yukon annually, according to the company.

Rifkind has not yet reviewed all the details of the company’s proposal, which is about 7,000 pages long, but already has many concerns with the project, he said.

The plan is to extend the Freegold Road out of Carmacks by about 120 kilometres to the mine site.

Building new roads tends to have an exponential impact on further development, said Rifkind.

The road extension will make the area more accessible to both prospectors and hunters, and the proposed route goes through some critical caribou habitat, he said.

The plan is to power the operations with an on-site power plant fuelled by liquefied natural gas. It will take 11 truckloads of the fuel to power the 150 megawatt plant.

That’s more than the entire generating capacity of the Yukon.

“It’s going to put the Yukon’s greenhouse gas emissions through the roof,” said Rifkind.

He would like to see the company commit to supplementing the fossil fuel power with renewable energy like wind or solar, he said.

“The generators are there to provide power, but when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, you use the renewable power, and when you don’t have the renewable power you can bring on your fossil fuel generators.”

And, since you can move wind turbines and solar panels, that infrastructure could be left as a legacy to the Yukon when the mine shuts down, he said.

Rifkind also worries about the amount of water the project will use, he said.

The plan is to pipe water from the Yukon River to the mine site.

What effect will that have on the water level and flow? he asked.

The Yukon River’s salmon population is already in trouble, and pumping huge amounts of water out could have serious effects, said Rifkind.

And he worries that the company’s closure plan could be catastrophic if not properly managed.

The plan is to construct a major embankment to hold back tailings and waste water.

“I don’t think it’s going to work,” said Rifkind.

“It something goes wrong, we’re then stuck with a huge mess, much larger than Faro.”

Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for cleaning up the mess left behind when the Faro mine closed.

That work is expected to cost $450-590 million over about 35-40 years, according the website for the cleanup project.

“Faro is an unmitigated disaster,” said Rifkind. “Faro is never going to be remediated at the rate we’re going, and the taxpayers are paying for that cleanup.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read