Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.

Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

The Yukon government has rejected ATAC Resources’ proposal for an access road to the company’s Tiger Gold Deposit northeast of Keno City.

The stated reasons include opposition expressed by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun (FNNND), who were concerned during consultation about the impacts of a four-season road into the undeveloped area.

“We are extremely disappointed with, and surprised by this decision,” said president and CEO Graham Downs in a statement.

“This was an application for a private, single-lane, gravel and controlled-access road in an area with existing winter trail access. If this road can’t be permitted following a positive environmental and socio-economic assessment decision and years of governmental encouragement to invest in the project, then you have to wonder if Yukon is in fact open for business,” he said.

The company said they are consulting legal advice and won’t be commenting further.

ATAC has proposed that the all-season 65-kilometre tote road is essential to accessing the area. The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Board issued a conditional approval in March of 2018.

The Tiger Gold Deposit is part of the larger Rackla Gold Project located within the Beaver River Watershed. It is all located within the traditional lands to the FNNND, but the proposed road skirted Settlement A lands.

In the legislative assembly on Dec. 1, Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent criticized the decision and accused the Liberals of “stringing along the company for three years” before turning down the proposal.

“It demonstrates that currently, there’s a climate of distrust in the mining industry of this government. It is extremely concerning when you see the CEO of a major mining company indicate that it seems like the Yukon is closed,” said Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai said the company will have an “opportunity to improve their application” and reapply.

Kent said in addition to the rejection of the application, the government failed to meet deadlines for the company.

“I know that one of the things that has been a challenge throughout the fall of this year and in the spring is ensuring that you meet consultation obligations, within a COVID reality. We’ve strived in every instance to do that,” said Pillai.

Pillai cited opposition by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun as a primary reason for the decision. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the First Nation and the Yukon government planned four consultations over the year, including two in Mayo and two in Whitehorse.

Concerns from citizens of the First Nation included that the road would permanently alter an untouched portion of the traditional territory, would encroach too closely on Settlement A lands and contribute to citizens feeling “a loss of control” in relation to mining in the area.

The amount of road to be constructed and its quality are also “unprecedented” under a Class 3 exploration program, according to the document. The document notes that only three full exploration seasons remain under the approved application, which expires August 2024.

“Approval of the Application would be in breach of the honour of the Crown and would be seen as a betrayal of FNNND people and leave the impacts of the Road on its aboriginal and treaty rights and Traditional Territory entirely unaddressed and unaccommodated,” reads the note in the decision document.

Asked about the conditional approvals the company received in 2017, Pillai said because the company is seeking legal counsel he would not comment.

“Once that gets stated it’s more difficult to get into a broader dialogue at this point,” he said. “So I would say that their application, in the end, the application didn’t meet the threshold.”

CPAWS Yukon applauded the decision.

In addition to cultural concerns regarding First Nation land, the conservation group said the road cuts through habitat for moose, grizzly bears and salmon in addition to other species.

“This decision makes it possible to develop a land use plan for the Beaver River Watershed that’s right for the region, respects the connections people have to it, and safeguards land and water for wildlife,” said Randi Newton, conservation manager with CPAWS Yukon.

Contact Haley Ritchie at

Environmental assessmentminingYukon government

Comments are closed

Just Posted


Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Team Yukon during the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. (Submitted/Sport Yukon)
Whitehorse will bid for 2027 Canada Winter Games

Bid would be submitted in July 2022

File Photo
The overdose crisis, largely driven by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil was the topic of an online discussion hosted by Blood Ties Four Directions Centre and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition on June 8 and 10.
Discussion of overdose crisis in Yukon leaves participants hopeful for future

The forum brought together people including some with personal drug use and addiction experience.

The Yukon has confirmed 33 active COVID-19 cases on June 15. (file photo)
Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

Western and Northern premiers met this week to discuss joint issues. (Joe Savikataaq/Twitter)
Premiers meet at Northern Premiers’ Forum and Western Premiers’ Conference

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq virtually hosted both meetings this year

The sun sets over Iqaluit on Oct. 26, 2020. Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle school came from household transmission and the risk to other students is low. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Iqaluit school’s contacts and classmates cleared after two COVID-19 cases

With an outbreak ongoing in Iqaluit, the Aqsarniit middle school has split students into two groups

An extended range impact weapon is a “less lethal” option that fires sponge or silicon-tipped rounds, according to RCMP. (File photo)
Whitehorse RCMP under investigation for use of “less lethal” projectile weapon during arrest

Police used the weapon to subdue a hatchet-wielding woman on June 4

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents.
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

The move comes in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015

Teslin Lake is one of two bodies of water the Yukon Government has place on flood watch. (Google Maps Image)
Flood watch issued for Teslin Lake, Yukon River at Carmacks

The bodies of water may soon burst their banks due to melting snow and rainfall

Most Read