Minto mine announces more layoffs

Without the permits in place to expand operations, another 50 jobs will be lost at the Minto mine over the coming weeks. In January the Capstone Mining Corp.

Without the permits in place to expand operations, another 50 jobs will be lost at the Minto mine over the coming weeks.

In January the Capstone Mining Corp. halved open-pit mining production and shed 44 jobs through subcontractor Pelly Construction in order to stretch out permitted ore through the summer.

But the company is still waiting on a water licence that will allow them to expand into Minto North, the next pit scheduled for mining, and is running out of ore in existing pits.

As a result, the Pelly Construction crew will scale back again.

Underground mining operations continue at the mine as normal.

Mill operations are also unaffected, as ore from underground operations and stockpiles continue to be processed.

The company applied to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in July 2013 to expand into phases five and six of the mine plan.

The board made multiple requests to the company for additional information before deeming the proposal adequate in December.

The board recommended that the project proceed in April, and the Yukon government released its decision document in June.

The company applied for an amended quartz mining licence and water licence in July.

The new quartz mining licence is expected to be ready today, said Mines Minister Scott Kent in an interview this week.

But it’s unclear when the amended water licence from the Yukon Water Board will be ready.

“There haven’t been any major stumbling blocks, there are no contentious issues, it’s just a matter of working through the process,” said Cindy Burnett, Capstone’s vice president of investor relations and communications.

There has been some discussion over the past weeks about whether or not the next phase of mining could get started without the new water licence in place.

“Our position is that because the proposed work is largely land-based, that it can be managed under the company’s existing water licence and the amended QML that is coming out, through strict terms and conditions,” said Kent.

The Yukon Water Board disagrees. It says that activity at the next mine pit must be covered under a water licence, and that it currently is not.

The board has suggested to the company that it could submit an application for a water licence that covers only Minto North, instead of all of phases five and six, said Carola Scheu, the water board’s director.

It’s unclear at this point if the company will do that, or continue with the major application that is currently under review.

“We are currently reviewing their big application and getting it ready for public comment,” said Scheu.

“It’s a fairly extensive application. We’re on it, is all I can say. It’s big, and it keeps us very busy.”

Burnett said that submitting a new application could jeopardize the one already submitted, and that may not by a good option for the company.

“From our perspective, the application that we have made is what stands,” she said.

The company hopes to have the licence in place by the end of the year, but at this point there is little certainty on the timeline, said Burnett.

All involved said there have been no major delays in the process, it’s just that the process takes time.

Minister Kent said his government is working on ways to make the permitting process run more efficiently.

There’s a lot of overlap between the quartz mining licence and the water licence, he said. “And it’s administered by two separate agencies, one being the quasi-judicial water board.

“The waters act itself pre-dates the YESAA act as well, so there’s uncertainty and some inefficiency and that’s what we need to work to address. We need to find some common ground so that situations like this don’t happen again in the future.”

Some work is already being done, he said. As of October there will be new timelines for the water board review process, and amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act are currently before the Senate.

“This work that we’re doing is of critical importance, especially when you see job losses associated with something like this. We remain committed to the future of the mine and continue to work closely with Capstone mining towards the long-term plan of being fully operational in the coming months.”

Capstone was in a similar situation in 2011. It started work in a new mining pit in April of that year without the proper water licence in place.

It wasn’t until a year later that territorial officials informed the mine that it needed a water licence for the work.

Operations at the mine continued without water board approval until a licence was finally issued in September of 2012.

“It’s not uncommon, for a short period of time, to tolerate conditions of non-compliance while corrective actions are being taken and while things are being rectified,” a director with Energy, Mines and Resources said at the time.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read