First Nation and Goldcorp spar over Coffee mine consultation

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and Goldcorp are at odds over whether there has been enough consultation on plans to build the Coffee gold mine south of Dawson City.

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and Goldcorp are at odds over whether there has been enough consultation on plans to build the Coffee gold mine south of Dawson City.

The project is currently in the middle of the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board’s adequacy review phase. That’s when the board decides whether it has enough information to start the screening process.

In a May 4 letter to the board, Chief Roberta Joseph said Kaminak Gold – the wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp – did not give the First Nation enough time to review changes to its plan before it was submitted to the board for consideration March 31.

“We have now received a copy of the proposal which includes an assessment of the effects of very recent and material revisions to the management and storage of waste rock for the project,” the letter says.

“The revised mine design included in the proposal material alters the nature of the impacts of the project in comparison to the original mine design contained in the old proposal.”

The First Nation is also concerned about to the road access route and the speed at which the project is progressing.

In his own letter responding to the chief, the mine’s general manager Buddy Crill wrote that the company has worked hard to consult with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. He disagrees that the law requires the complete proposal be given to the First Nation before a project is submitted.

Law requires “notice of the matter in sufficient form and detail” is given at this stage, he said.

By providing technical reports and studies and holding various working groups “the consultation has been more than adequate, and Kaminak intends to continue with this approach,” he said.

Kaminak received 445 information requests from the First Nation and as of May 5, 2017 had responded to all of them, Crill said.

In her letter, Joseph said 130 requests for information were not responded to before the project was submitted for adequacy review at the end of March and that some questions were “answered inadequately.”

Crill accused the First Nation of not allowing the company to make public presentations.

“TH also informed Kaminak that TH will host only open-house style meetings for Kaminak and that no public presentation by Kaminak is permitted at these meetings,” he writes.

“TH has also discouraged Kaminak from carrying out these meetings with the frequency that Kaminak has proposed and desired.”

Crill confirms that Goldcorp made a few revisions to the mine plan after it bought Kaminak in the fall/winter of 2016.

“This evaluation resulted in an increase in the volume of the ore and waste rock produced by the project compared to the 2016 Kaminak feasibility study,” he said.

“The ore volume increased from 46 million tonnes (MT) to 60MT and the volume of waste rock increased from 265MT to 300MT. No other mine plan components were changed.”

The Coffee project began its adequacy review May 18. The board has 60 days to decide whether it has enough information to move to the next stage which will include public consultation. It can also ask for an extension.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-new.com

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