Territorial delays cost placer miner the season

DAWSON CITY Cold nights and slushy water are bringing Dawson’s placer mining season to a close.

DAWSON CITY

Cold nights and slushy water are bringing Dawson’s placer mining season to a close.

But Jim Archibald, who’s been mining in the Klondike riding since the early ‘60s, is just getting started.

“I only got my water licence two weeks ago,” he said Tuesday.

He applied to territorial boards for the permit last fall.

Archibald’s previous water permit, which was supposed to be processed in 90 days, took 180.

This time, it took almost a year, he said.

“It’s been getting worse and worse.”

The permits are good for five years.

All summer, while miners around his claim sluiced dirt and weighed gold, Archibald waited patiently for his permit.

“I painted the camp,” he said.

“And I worked on the pump.”

When the permit finally did arrive, Archibald only had two weeks left to mine.

“And I really only had one week,  ‘cause this week the water’s already slushy and the ground’s freezing,” he said.

Although he only got a week of mining, this summer counts as one of the five on his water permit.

“If you apply in the fall, you should get it by April or May,” said Archibald, who blames bureaucracy for the delay.

This is an issue that has to be dealt with, said NDP candidate Jorn Meier, who was chair of the Dawson Chamber of Commerce during the mining rally that saw local business shut down on “black Wednesday” to force changes to placer mining regulations in March 2003.

Right now, applications for water licences can take up to nine months, said Meier.

Miners have to make two applications, one through the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Act and one to the water board.

The water board won’t even touch the application until YESAA is finished with it, said Meier.

“And YESAA takes three months and then the water board takes three months, and if there are hiccups, then it takes even longer.”

And the miners can’t work, he said.

“They can’t do anything.

“They have to sit on their equipment and just wait for their water licences.”

Everybody is happy about the price of gold right now, said Meier.

But miners still aren’t doing very well.

They are just coming out of a long, long dry spell; the price of fuel is really high and they can’t work because they’re waiting for these water licences, he said.

“I’ve talked to a lot of miners and I’ve talked to the Klondike Placer Miners Association and I would think (Premier Dennis) Fentie and Archie Lang have been approached,” he said.

“But nothing’s happened.”