Low-level mineral exploration system proposed for entire territory next year

The plan is being pitched in order to streamline the process, reduce confusion

Implementing a low-level mineral exploration regime across the Yukon is set to occur this spring, having been agreed to by all self-governing First Nations.

The goal is to streamline staking processes by bolstering communication between industry and governments.

“It’s gonna provide certainty to industry,” said Jennifer Russell, manager of mineral planning and development for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. “Now, instead of having this discussion about whether class one notification is required or not where their claims are, they’ll have certainty that this is a requirement across the Yukon.”

The Yukon government has to be notified when there’s a one to 10-person camp going in or when trenches or corridors are built, for example. All of these fall under a class one notification, a low-level development threshold. Those wishing to develop their claims can notify the Yukon government and affected First Nations online.

Currently, class one notification applies to roughly 50 per cent of the Yukon. It doesn’t require an environmental assessment — subsequent ones do, however.

An improved online submission tool is being worked out in order to expedite wait times for staking work posing the least environmental harm. There’s a 25-day review period right now for this classification. This could be reduced, Russell said.

Nothing would change in Ross River, said Russell, where there’s a staking ban in place. Existing claims can still be tended to, so those people can expand them. The class one notification system already exists in the area, Russell said.

First Nations have been calling on the Yukon government to do more notification and consultation regarding mining activity since 2013, she said.

“Yukon government has recognized that we have this legal duty to consult on these low-level mining activities.”

The development is tied to a recommendation in the mining memorandum of understanding, according to a news release.

It also says this classification is currently applied in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s traditional territory, the asserted traditional territories of all Yukon First Nations without final agreements, the territories of the Taku River Tlingit, in the Peel Watershed area and on Category A and B First Nation settlement lands.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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