The Yukon government has once again denied a local company’s plans to mine within Tombstone Territorial Park.
Canadian United Minerals wanted to use helicopters to carry supplies and ore between the Dempster Highway and its Horn claims, near the Upper Blackstone River in the Ogilvie Mountains.
The rejection follows the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board’s recommendations against the project.
“We have to weigh all the stuff in front of us,” said Bob Holmes, director of mineral resources of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, who penned the final decision.
Nearly 900 public comments were submitted to assessors. Most opposed the plans outlined by Canadian United Minerals’ president, Joel White.
“In this case there’s a little bit of extra sensitivity and extra values because it’s a park,” said Holmes. “There is a certain higher standard that’s being expected.”
Part of that expectation comes from the Tr’ondek Hwech’in, which co-established the park through its final land claims and self-government agreements.
“It is simply not appropriate to mine in Tombstone Park, by any means,” the First Nation wrote in its submission to the assessment board, offering a timeline of the park’s establishment, the company’s messy history and the area’s historical significance. Archaeologists have found evidence of human activity in the area dating back 10,000 years.
“Our history is inscribed on this land. This truly is an area of unparalleled significance. (Canadian United Minerals) has certain rights in the park, but the bottom line is that the Horn claims are part of the park and ... Any damage whatsoever is unacceptable.”
The First Nation’s submission was accompanied by another 15-page submission and letter signed by 100 of the First Nation’s citizens.
But this decision doesn’t mean White has to give up his claims within the park.
“They can try again,” said Holmes of the company, which tried a similar proposal for the same claims back in 2010.
“They can redesign the project and submit it again for assessment. Maybe, if it’s designed in a way that the assessor considers it not to have significant effect, it could be recommended to go ahead. But I don’t know what that project would look like.”
White did not return calls from the News.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org