Prospectors face new notification rules

Prospectors will need to notify the Yukon government about low-level exploration work in newly designated swaths of the territory, following an announcement yesterday.

Prospectors will need to notify the Yukon government about low-level exploration work in newly designated swaths of the territory, following an announcement yesterday.

“The Yukon government is working together with First Nations and the mining sector to achieve greater clarity and certainty for the development of a strong resource industry in the territory,” resources minister Scott Kent said in a statement.

“All parties recognize the social and economic importance of mining to Yukon.”

Anyone prospecting or exploring at a Class 1 level on quartz or placer claims in the new areas will need to notify the Yukon government. That’s the lowest level of exploration, and can include activities such as clearing trees, building trails, digging up rock and the use of explosives.

The new areas that will require notification as of July 1 are:

* All category A and B settlement lands as identified under each Yukon First Nation final agreement.

* The shared traditional territory of Kluane First Nation and White River First Nation.

* The remainder of the Kaska traditional territory not already covered by the recent Ross River Area court order.

* The asserted area of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

In late 2012 the Yukon Court of Appeal ruled the Yukon government had infringed on the rights of the Ross River Dena Council by allowing staking and Class 1 exploration in the First Nation’s traditional territory without notification or accommodation.

The following year, the Yukon legislature passed amendments to the Quartz Mining Act and Placer Mining Act and the associated regulations.

Those changes allow the government to designate areas that require consultation for Class 1 work. The land that was the subject of the lawsuit was changed right away. Parts of the Peel River watershed were later given the designation.

Other First Nations have demanded that they should be entitled to the same thing. The government’s response has been that they need to wait their turn.

The issue has become part of multiple court cases. Both the Kaska Dena Council and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation filed separate lawsuits.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation, based in Atlin, B.C., sued the Yukon government in February, asking for the concessions from the Ross River case to be extended to Yukon portions of its territory.

That lawsuit also called on the territorial government to cancel plans to build a campground on Atlin Lake until the First Nation had been consulted adequately.

Eric Telford, engagement coordinator for the First Nation, said that this recent concession by the Yukon government does not mean that the lawsuit will be dropped.

“We have not had the substantial part of that lawsuit settled, which is the campground.”

Calls to the lawyer representing the Kaska Dena Council were not returned in time for today’s deadline.

The Yukon government says the next step is to work “with First Nations and industry on setting revised thresholds for Class 1 notification that will apply across all of Yukon by the summer 2015 field season.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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