Longtime Dawson City placer miner Darrell Carey has filed a lawsuit against the Yukon government, accusing the territory’s minister of energy, mines and resources of expropriating his claims above the Klondike River.
In a statement of claim filed to the Yukon Supreme Court on Aug. 16, Carey alleges that he has been unfairly restricted from working his claims on the East Bench, to “the benefit of the Government of Yukon and others.”
It’s the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute between Carey, the territory and Dawsonites over the claims and the impact mining activity would have on local cross-country ski trails, among other things.
Carey, reached via his lawyer Daniel Coles on Aug. 22, declined to comment for this story.
The case has not yet been tested in court.
According to the lawsuit, Carey owns 34 placer claims on the East Bench, some of which were staked nearly a century ago.
He’s “performed mining activities … from time-to-time” on those claims since 2012, the statement of claim continues, and “wishes to operate a placer mine” over them.
However, recommendations from the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) that were subsequently adopted by territorial officials have shut Carey’s plans down twice — first, in 2016, and again in 2018.
The latter YESAB report “identified various benefits the Government of Yukon and others would obtain if the Project was denied, or granted with significant restrictions,” the statement of claim says, setting out 21 terms and conditions on the work Carey could do.
The benefits included the preservation of the Moose Mountain cross-country ski trails, the “preservation of wildlife, wildlife habitat, plants, soil and heritage resources” and “various benefits to public health and safety.”
The Yukon government’s director of mineral resources, Robert Holmes, issued a decision in November 2018, changing five of the terms but approving the remaining 16.
The lawsuit alleges the terms and conditions “impose onerous procedural, temporal, logistical and financial obligations on Carey that are unreasonable, arbitrary, and deny Carey the ability to meaningful access (to) the East Bench Claims for mining activity.”
Among the terms and conditions the lawsuit claims have an expropriating impact is the creation of a 30-metre buffer zone around the Moose Mountain ski trails which, paired with a prohibition on accessing or disturbing the trails, prevents Carey from accessing about 80 per cent of his East Bench claims. Another condition creating a 150-metre buffer from all Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in settlement land and surveyed land “further reduces what is left of the accessible claims.”
“Pursuant to the Placer Mining Act, Carey is entitled to enter the East Bench Claims to perform miner-like work,” the lawsuit says.
“The (decision by Holmes), exacerbated by subsequent decisions by the City of Dawson to refuse to issue to him the necessary development permits to access the East Bench Claims, operates as a de facto expropriation of Carey’s interests … by confiscating from him all of his reasonable uses of, and interests in, the East Bench Claims to the benefit of the Government of Yukon and others.”
Carey, the lawsuit notes, “has been a placer miner for most of his adult life” and “involved in mining in Dawson City since he was 16 years of age.”
“By denying Carey access, or in the alternative reasonable and meaningful access to, the East Bench Claims, the Government of Yukon has deprived him of his right to profit à prendre. This amounts to a recovery by the Government of Yukon of the rights previously granted to Carey and a discharge of encumbrances on the subject lands,” the lawsuit says.
Carey is seeking a declaration from the court that the Yukon government has expropriated his East Bench claims, as well as general and special damages as well as legal costs.
The Yukon government had not yet filed a reply as of Aug. 22.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org