Supreme Court sides with Selwyn

The Liard First Nation's attempt to stop further exploration of the Selwyn Project near the southeast Yukon border with the Northwest Territories, has been dismissed in Yukon's Supreme Court.

The Liard First Nation’s attempt to stop further exploration of the Selwyn Project near the southeast Yukon border with the Northwest Territories, has been dismissed in Yukon’s Supreme Court.

The project’s proceedings had adequately met all obligations to the First Nation, so far, said Justice Ron Veale in his decision, delivered on Monday.

In November, Liard First Nation applied to suspend, quash or stay the decision document issued by the territorial government that allowed advanced underground exploration to proceed to the regulatory stage.

The First Nation claimed the environmental assessment and government consultation with them was inadequate.

Liard First Nation also mentioned that Selwyn should take on the liability from the previous owner of the historic audit. In the environmental assessment and Veale’s decision, this issue was noted as “not addressed” and that reclamation would be dealt with in a separate process.

But the First Nation’s main concerns centered around adverse effects to water, caribou, migratory birds and fish.

“The assessment reasonably considers the environmental effects,” said Veale in his decision, but he did mention, “it is notable that the application for the Selwyn Project had to be withdrawn and refiled in order to ensure the assessment process was a meaningful one.”

And while Veale said the “better part of a day,” spent between 11 knowledgeable government employees and members from the First Nation was adequate consultation, he wrote, “I understand that meeting one day and issuing the final decision document the next raises questions.

“(But) it is undoubtedly a considerable improvement” over consultation recently afforded the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, he added.

The 42-page decision ended with Veale sympathizing with the challenges First Nations face trying to participate in mine claims being developed on their land, at such a fast pace.

On Wednesday, Selwyn Resources Ltd. issued a press release stating it was pleased with the court’s decision and outlined it plans to implement the 200,000 tonne underground exploration program.

“The known deposits have the potential for large-scale production, and the potential to provide a secure supply of zinc and lead to meet the future needs of these markets in Asia and beyond,” the release read.

Ninety per cent of the project is located within the Yukon, with only a small part of its southeast end extending into the Northwest Territories. The 7,450 hectares of mineral claims is the consolidation of the Howard’s Pass Joint Venture from Placer Dome and Cygnus Mines Ltd., and Selwyn’s properties. Exploration has already cost them more than $70 million. This further exploration is expected to ring up an additional bill of $65 million.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com