Goldcorp Inc has be asked to do more work on planning for its Coffee mine before the project can move on to a full environmental assessment. (Courtesy of Kaminak Gold Corp.)

Goldcorp’s Coffee proposal deemed ‘inadequate’

Mining company now has 180 days to answer the assessment board’s questions

For the second time in less than a year, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has sent Goldcorp Inc. back to do more work on planning for its Coffee mine before the project can move on to a full environmental assessment.

The board ruled Feb. 7 that Goldcorp hadn’t provided adequate information about its plan to build the mine 130 kilometres south of Dawson City.

“The executive committee has reviewed the proposal for the ‘Coffee gold mine’ submitted by Goldcorp Inc. on December 21, 2017,” the report says.

“The executive committee has determined that the proposal is inadequate.”

This is the second time recently that the board has sent the mining company back to get more information.

YESAB halted the project for the first time last July. At that time it said Goldcorp couldn’t move on because the company had not done enough consultations with affected First Nations which include the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, Selkirk First Nation and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun.

Goldcorp resubmitted its plan in December with an expanded list of how it says it consulted with First Nations. At the time the company called its consultation “robust” and said that concerns of First Nations were worked into its updated proposal.

YESAB will confirm that consultation obligations under the act have been met when it notifies the proponent that its proposal is adequate, said the board’s executive director Tim Smith.

Before YESAB accepts a project for environmental assessment, it goes through an adequacy review process. That’s when the assessment board can ask a proponent for information it’s lacking.

The assessment board issued a 99-page-long report on Coffee laying out areas where it says it needs more information.

Whether a company has adequately consulted with First Nations is one of the first things YESAB considers when looking at a project, Smith said.

If the answer to that first question is no, the company is immediately informed that more consultation needs to happen and the executive committee doesn’t finish going through the proposal in a thorough way.

“It would have taken considerably more time to arrive at that more detailed conclusion initially,” he said.

YESAB received input from various federal departments, the Yukon government and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Selkirk and White River First Nations, as well as independent consultants hired by the board.

Areas where the assessment board now says it needs more details from Goldcorp include the design of the waste rock storage and heap leach facilities, water treatment plans, traffic, the sewage facility and construction plans. There are questions about the fish and fish habitat assessment and the wildlife assessment and the waste management plan. Goldcorp is also being asked to provide more details on how the project will impact housing in Dawson City and Whitehorse among other things.

Goldcorp now has 180 days to answer the assessment board’s questions, though the company can ask for more time.

No one from Goldcorp could be reached for comment in time for today’s deadline.

Christopher Griffiths, a spokesperson for the Yukon’s Executive Council Office said the government wouldn’t be commenting at this stage of the process.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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