Free staking free for all

In the last two years, 10,000 claims have been staked in the Peel Watershed -- 8,000 of them by one company. It's a mining company searching for uranium, said NDP Leader Todd Hardy in the house on Thursday.

In the last two years, 10,000 claims have been staked in the Peel Watershed—8,000 of them by one company.

It’s a mining company searching for uranium, said NDP Leader Todd Hardy in the house on Thursday.

Free staking needs to be reviewed, he said.

Roughly 80 per cent of the Yukon is open for staking, said Hardy.

“It’s the right of anybody to go stake a claim anywhere—someone could stake your backyard.”

Hardy is calling for changes to the Yukon Quartz Mining Act.

It lets “free miners” access land that could contain minerals; register a claim without consulting the Crown, and acquire a lease without the Crown’s discretion.

It only costs $10 to stake a claim, and to maintain it the “miner” needs to do $100 worth of work annually.

“That’s the equivalent of driving your truck up to the claim and walking around,” said Hardy.

And, to avoid road permits, mining companies can just stake a string of claims and stretch a road across them.

Free staking also conflicts with aboriginal rights, said Hardy.

“It does not provide for free, prior and informed consent at the critical point when mineral rights are acquired.”

But free staking in the Peel Watershed is a moneymaker, said Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers in the house.

When Hardy refers to “a significant number of claims in one area—what he seems to be categorizing as nuisance claims—what’s being talked about here is millions of dollars of exploration work,” said Cathers.

“It is the exploration work that Yukoners are engaged in that is employing Yukoners territory-wide … in fact, bringing forward projects that look like they may become productive mines employs even more Yukon citizens.”

Yukoners’ values have changed, said Hardy.

“If we don’t make changes now, what kind of mess will we have down the road?”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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