Dixon goes to China

Yukon's minister of environment and economic development wants to sell Asian investors on Yukon resources. Currie Dixon is leaving on Sunday for a two-week trip to pitch the Yukon to foreign investors.

Yukon’s minister of environment and economic development wants to sell Asian investors on Yukon resources.

Currie Dixon is leaving on Sunday for a two-week trip to pitch the Yukon to foreign investors. While he won’t have time to drop by the Yukon’s sister province in Shaanxi, China, he will be visiting Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo to meet with government representatives and business leaders.

“In order for projects to go forward in the Yukon, we need investment from outside of our borders, and trips like this to emerging economies like those in Asia only seek to attract that investment and bring it to the territory,” Dixon said.

But convincing investors to drop their money here could be a difficult sell. As Golden Predator CEO Bill Sheriff pointed out this week, investors want certainty, and that’s something that he says is in short supply in the Yukon.

A recent Appeals Court ruling found the territory’s mineral claims regime sometimes runs afoul of First Nation rights. This is the latest in a series of issues that undermine investor confidence in the Yukon, Sheriff said.

“This court decision is just going to kill exploration financing in the Yukon. Investors hate uncertainty and there was already plenty of uncertainty in the Yukon before this,” Sheriff said.

Other concerns include a looming court battle between three northern First Nations and the Yukon government over its handling of the Peel watershed land-use planning process. And the Kaska First Nations have threatened to block the North Canol Road in response to the territorial government’s move to strip unsigned First Nations of their power to veto oil and gas development.

There is also increasing national tension in the wake of the Idle No More movement, which is demanding that the federal and provincial governments respect treaty obligations and consult honestly with indigenous communities.

In December Mike Smith, the Assembly of First Nations’ Yukon regional chief, told the News that the federal government’s recent controversial Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China could be used by some First Nations to put pressure on the government by blocking development on their lands.

“It’s Machiavellian here. What you do is you use (the FIPA deal) against the government. We can create so much hell for Chinese companies, (the Canadian government) is going to end up paying millions and billions,” Smith said.

But Dixon was optimistic that he can paint a tempting picture of the Yukon as open for business.

“A reality of doing business in Yukon is that you need to get what we refer to as a social licence … you need to involve the First Nation in those developments. I think First Nations are keen to see economic development, but they want to be involved in how it goes forward. That’s a reasonable process; we’ve got experience with that. I see nothing but opportunity there with First Nations rather than a challenge,” he said.

The Yukon government has been courting Asian investment on trips like this since 2005.

Dixon said he’s hoping the trip will help to secure investments like the one that got the Wolverine mine up and running in 2008.

When the global economy tanked in 2008, two Chinese-owned firms snapped up the Wolverine project from Yukon Zinc, taking it private and eventually putting the mine into production. If that hadn’t happened, Yukon Zinc might have been forced to close up shop.

“The investment and development of that mine wouldn’t have happened with the work of my predecessors and the department in establishing relationships and courting that investment,” Dixon said.

To cap off his trip, Dixon will be making a presentation at the Precious Metals Summit in Hong Kong on Jan 24.

“It’s a very renowned summit. It’s a good opportunity to showcase what Yukon has to offer,” Dixon said.

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

From Whitehorse to the Whitecaps

Joe Hanson is starting his second season with the Vancouver Whitecaps academy

Mount Lorne Mis-Adventure Trail Race doesn’t miss a step

Blue skies and sunshine for a chilly fall race

Canada Summer Games postponed

Yukon Canada Summer Games athletes will now work on mastering skills in preperation for 2022

Site selection for battery project draws ire of nearby landowners

Yukon Energy is accepting public comments on three possible sites for the project

Taking a closer look at the cosmos

Star gazing party scheduled for Sept. 18

Yukon government releases new guidelines for COVID-19 symptoms and sending children to school

The advice sorts symptoms into three categories: red, yellow and green

Nominations closed in Watson Lake byelection

Four candidates are running for mayor

Baggage screening changes begin

Passengers are asked to arrive earlier than normal in order to accommodate the new temporary system

Yukon Government extends education review

The final report is scheduled for release in March 2021

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Lawsuit against Freedom Trails settled

The suit was dismissed with consent of all parties

Tank farm takes another step towards development

OCP designation passes second reading

Climate change strategy targets 30 per cent reduction in territory greenhouse gases by 2030

The strategy includes rebates for electric vehicles but puts off mining targets for two years

Most Read