The Yukon Territorial Water Board will hold hearings on Western Copper Corporation’s proposed Carmacks Copper mine throughout this week in Whitehorse.
Obtaining a water licence is the last hurdle the company must clear before it proceeds with plans to build an open-pit copper mine 38 kilometres northwest of Carmacks next year with an aim to start production in 2012.
With copper reserves of 10.6 million tonnes, the mine is expected to have a life of at least six years and could employ as many as 250 workers during construction and 180 workers during production.
But the project faces heavy criticism from conservationists and First Nations, who worry that the mine could dump toxins into a salmon-bearing stream that feeds into the Yukon River. These fears are bound to
consume much of next week’s meeting.
The mine plans to use what’s known as heap-leach technology to strip copper from ore. It involves dousing rock piles with sulphuric acid. Critics say this technology has a spotty track record.
Copper is particularly dangerous to salmon. The metal damages a fish’s sense of smell, which in turn impedes a salmon’s ability to navigate.
Interveners registered to speak are the Yukon Conservation Society, Selkirk First Nation, Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, Selkirk Renewable Resources Council, Environment Canada and the Government of
Hearings will be held from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the High Country Inn.