Lots of bark, little bite in Roundup pledges

This week's Mineral Exploration Roundup conference in Vancouver saw the Yukon government make a host of spending promises for the mining sector. But most of them are not as new as they might appear.

This week’s Mineral Exploration Roundup conference in Vancouver saw the Yukon government make a host of spending promises for the mining sector.

But most of them are not as new as they might appear.

The commitments started rolling out on Monday, when the government pledged $900,000 to the Yukon Mining Alliance for promotional activities over the next three years.

The mining alliance, which represents the territory’s mining companies, will be throwing in an additional $100,000.

John McConnell, chair of the alliance and CEO of Victoria Gold, said part of the money will be used to support the annual investors’ tour of mining properties in the Yukon.

He said those tours have a direct impact on investment in the territory. For instance, he explained, Wellgreen Platinum received a $10-million investment in the fall from an investor who’d been on the tour.

But the $1-million announcement is not a new commitment. It’s simply a continuation of a funding arrangement that’s been in place for several years.

“This funding actually is part of a process that we’ve been engaged with YMA on over the past three years or so,” explained Stephen Rose, assistant deputy minister with the Department of Economic Development.

Similarly, a commitment to fund the Yukon Chamber of Mines’ communication plan, released on Tuesday, is also a continuation of an existing program. The government first provided $150,000 for development of the chamber’s “Our Yukon” campaign in the 2014-15 fiscal year. Now, it’s promised the chamber another $450,000 to implement the plan over the next three years, beginning in 2015-16.

Samson Hartland, executive director of the chamber of mines, said the money will be used to further educate Yukoners about the history and value of Yukon’s mining industry. He’d like to install interpretive panels on local trails that describe points of interest from Yukon’s past.

“Hopefully, folks… will understand what benefits the industry provides,” he said.

The government also re-announced that it’s extending funding for the Yukon mineral exploration program with a $1.4-million commitment for the 2016 field season. That announcement was originally made during the Yukon Geoscience Forum in November 2015.

There was at least one new funding announcement that came out of this week’s conference, however.

The Yukon government says it’s asking the federal government for help to upgrade the Goldfield, Casino, Freegold and Nahanni Range roads. The upgrades would give the mining industry easier access in the Dawson and Nahanni Range areas.

Mines Minister Scott Kent told the News that the full project would likely cost around $300 million.

He pointed to a recent report from the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, which found that a “significant infrastructure deficit” is impeding new economic development in the North.

“Any investments in infrastructure… are good and there’s solid payback,” Kent said. “They’re good projects for the Yukon, but they’re also good projects for Canada.”

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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