Hefty fines were issued to the operators of a placer mine after they diverted water and muddied a stream while the mine site was still being assessed with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.
The Yukon Territorial Court issued a total of $30,000 in fines to Benjamin and Adam Sternbergh following their guilty pleas to Placer Mining Act and Waters Act offences on Sept. 28.
An agreed statement of facts filed with the court says the Stenberghs had an agreement to conduct a Class 4 placer mining operation on four mining claims and two prospecting claims held by a third party. The claims are located approximately 85 km northeast of Whitehorse.
Class 4 Placer mining operations are those that exceed the size and scope limits of a Class 2 mine and also require either more than 300 cubic metres of water use per day or the depositing of waste in a watercourse. Class 4 mines require a water license.
According to court documents, applications for Class 4 mining land use approval and a water license were submitted in February 2020 but had not been authorized when operations began at the mine. The agreed facts say the Sternberghs operated the mine between June 19 and July 21.
Their actions coupled with heavy rainfall are said to have impacted water quality in the creek they altered and diverted as well as an unnamed lake it drains into.
An inspector directed the Sternberghs to stop work, return the creek to its direction of flow, reclaim a ditch they dug and prevent further erosion. They had completed the work by September 4.
Both men plead guilty to four separate charges. Three further charges per man were stayed. The judge gave them eight months to pay their $15,000 each in fines.
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