The Yukon loses mining investment steam, according to Fraser Institute report

Minister Ranj Pillai said the mineral development strategy is to address shortcomings

Investors are less likely to eye the Yukon as a feasible place to start mining operations, according to a report by the Fraser Institute.

The Annual Survey of Mining Companies, 2019, says that the Yukon has been downgraded to 23rd in terms of global investment attractiveness. The territory ranked ninth in the same category in its 2018 report.

Samson Hartland, executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, said other jurisdictions in Canada have fared similarly.

“We know overall, Canada-wide we have similar issues and challenges.”

Compared to other Canadian provinces and territories, the Yukon ranks fifth, according to the report.

The report looks at 76 jurisdictions across the globe. It used a survey of mining and exploration companies to “attempt to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulatory uncertainty affect exploration investment,” according to an executive summary of the report.

Hartland said environmental assessment and permitting issues in the territory have caused “confusion, complication and delay.”

Regulatory uncertainty and timelines are distinct in the Yukon, Hartland continued, noting that this has been communicated to the Yukon government for some time.

“We’re hoping that those issues can be resolved so that it can give industry the confidence to invest in the Yukon.”

Ranj Pillai, minister of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, said the international report was not raised during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto this week.

“Nobody has discussed it or questioned it,” he told reporters on March 3. “The Yukon, like a lot of great Canadian jurisdictions, were affected by this past survey. For us, any feedback we get, whether it’s positive or negative, you have to take that, analyze it and use it as a tool to improve.”

Pillai plugged the mineral development strategy as means to address outstanding problems associated with permitting. He called it the “most comprehensive strategy build in Yukon history,” adding that it’s been endorsed by all self-governing First Nations.

Stacey Hassard, interim leader of the Yukon Party, dismissed this. He said the Liberals are full of hot air when it comes to this issue — while there’s a lot of talk about plans, there’s a propensity to not follow through with them.

“We don’t see results, we don’t see the minister walking the walk,” he said.

“I think any time we see a drop from the Fraser Institute it’s important to the mining industry. We know that mining is the cornerstone of our economy in the Yukon and it’s important that government does the work that’s necessary to ensure that investors are interested and want to invest here in the territory.”

Hassard said mining company representatives raise concerns about permitting woes “on a daily basis.”

“It’s interesting that the minister would say that people aren’t concerned or aren’t talking about it. Even at Roundup we heard these concerns from industry repeatedly.”

Pillai accused the Yukon Party of grandstanding.

“I think the Yukon Party has talked about this Fraser report more than anybody else I heard, but it’s certainly not something being talked about here,” he said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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