Liberals let royalties lie

The Liberals aren't going to mess with placer or hard-rock royalties. "Unlike the NDP, we have no plans to raise royalties or fees on placer miners or hard-rock miners," said Liberal Leader Mitchell.

The Liberals aren’t going to mess with placer or hard-rock royalties.

“Unlike the NDP, we have no plans to raise royalties or fees on placer miners or hard-rock miners,” said Liberal Leader Mitchell, during a mining announcement Monday.

Placer miners have been paying royalties of 37.5

cents an ounce on gold since 1906, when gold was $15 an ounce.

Now, it’s selling for more than $1,800 an ounce.

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“Many placer operations are marginal,” said Porter Creek South candidate Don Inverarity.

“And while it’s true there has been a spike in gold prices, there has also been a spike in fuel costs.”

Free staking will also continue under a Liberal government, said Inverarity.

Neighbourhoods in Whitehorse and Dawson have been battling mining work in their subdivisions as a result of free staking, but this could be solved by “giving municipalities greater say concerning what goes on within their boundaries,” said Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell.

“And municipalities only account for one per cent of land within the territory,” he said.

Klondike Liberal candidate Sandy Silver was slated to be in Whitehorse for the mining announcement, but ended up meeting with Tr’ondek Hwech’in Chief Eddie Taylor instead.

“Unlike the Yukon Party, we actually meet with the chiefs,” said Mitchell.

Premier Darrell Pasloski kicked off the election trying to take credit for the Yukon’s economy, added Mitchell.

“But the main thing driving the economy is the price of metals.”

In 2002, the price of gold was $320 an ounce, said Mitchell. “On Saturday it was $1,810.” Silver jumped from $4 to $40 in that same time period, he said.

“The Yukon Party doesn’t control mineral prices and neither do we,” said Mitchell. “Sky-high mineral prices are the main reason we are in good shape today and it won’t change under a Liberal government.”

What will change is the level of co-operation between the Yukon Territorial Water Board and the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board, said Inverarity.

“The issue of regulatory uncertainty is perhaps the most serious issue to face the Yukon’s mining industry in years,” he said, citing last year’s Carmacks Copper debacle.

The Carmacks Copper project was rejected by the water board after it had already been approved by the socio-economic assessment board.

“This demonstrates that the assessment board and the water board are not harmonized or co-ordinated,” said Inverarity.

“In fact, they appear to be at odds with one another.”

The Liberals will clarify the roles and jurisdictions of the water board and the socio-economic assessment board, he said.

“We recognize the impact mining can have on our economy and are very concerned about the uncertainty created by last year’s water board decision,” said Inverarity.

“Addressing that uncertainty would be our first priority.”

The Liberals also plan to work collaboratively with Yukon First Nations and have already been in meetings with local First Nations to discuss resource-sharing agreements.

In addition, the Liberals want to negotiate an improved resource royalty sharing agreement with the federal government. And they plan to establish strong relationships with industry and NGOs, as well as government and First Nations.

Their platform also promises to continue funding the Yukon Mining Incentives Program, and the Yukon Minerals Advisory Board.

The Liberals also plan to work with local educational and training organizations, including NGOs to share information, co-ordinate activities and increase opportunities for mining-related education and training, said Inverarity.

Finally, the Liberals are looking at the possibility of digitized claim staking.

Instead of driving actual stakes into the ground, digitized staking can be done by simply clicking a mouse on a digital topographical map.

This would help reduce “the wear and tear on the ground,” said Inverarity.

However, digital staking comes with its own glitches.

“Fractioning, or overlapping claims, is the biggest concern,” said Inverarity. Still, digitizing the Yukon would create lots of jobs in information technology, he said.

“We are committed to the mining and resource industries,” said Mitchell.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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