Nickel hunters stake near Marsh Lake

If First Point Minerals has its way, a nickel mine could one day be churning out ore about 15 kilometres from Marsh Lake homes.

If First Point Minerals has its way, a nickel mine could one day be churning out ore about 15 kilometres from Marsh Lake homes.

This summer the Vancouver-based exploration junior staked a 1,150-hectare block near the rural subdivision. Based on promising surface sample results announced this month, the company expects to return next summer to drill 2,000 metres of core.

This troubles Lewis Rifkind, mining co-ordinator for the Yukon Conservation Society.

“People didn’t move to Marsh Lake to be next to a mine,” he said. “Is this the kind of thing we want to see in our neighbourhoods?”

It’s not the first time this question has been raised. Residents of Dawson City’s Midnight Dome aren’t happy with Darrell Carey’s hunt for gold near their homes.

And Whitehorse’s city council has fought the plans of Arcturus Ventures to sniff for precious metals near the Spruce Hill subdivision.

But First Point’s exploration program isn’t likely to make a racket that could be heard from homes, said Ron Britten, vice-president of exploration.

And an existing trail, cut by ATVs, is already nearly enough to haul in a drill-rig with a truck, he said.

As far as mining operations go, exploiting a nickel-iron deposit, as First Point hopes to do, is “very benign,” said Britten.

Ore could be crushed and then separated using magnets, without producing nasty chemical byproducts like sulphates.

But mines for base metals tend to have narrow margins. That typically means “it would have to be very big” to be profitable, said Rifkind.

He also worries about the impact of a mine on nearby wildlife. The claim is near moose and caribou habitat. And it sits near the headwaters of Mitchie Creek. That, in turn, flows into the M’Clintock River.

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