Western Copper appeals Carmacks case

Western Copper Corporation is appealing the Yukon Supreme Court decision that nixed the company’s plans to build a copper mine near Carmacks. The appeal, made on Friday, will give the company “maximum flexibility” in its pursuit to build the contentious project.

Western Copper Corporation is appealing the Yukon Supreme Court decision that nixed the company’s plans to build a copper mine near Carmacks.

The appeal, made on Friday, will give the company “maximum flexibility” in its pursuit to build the contentious project, said CEO Dale Corman in a release.

Western Copper also has engineers beefing-up the proposed mine’s cleanup plans, to make the project more palatable to regulators.

The company wants to douse massive rock piles with sulphuric acid to separate copper from ore. Critics worry that run-off could pollute the salmon-bearing Yukon River.

The Yukon Water Board shared these concerns and denied the company’s bid for a licence.

Western Copper challenged the decision, arguing that the water board shouldn’t be able to contradict the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board’s earlier approval of the project.

Justice Ronald Veale disagreed. To force the board to agree with the assessment board’s findings “would completely eviscerate the licensing role of the water board,” he wrote.

The company must now walk a fine line as it overhauls its plans. Change too little, and the water board will continue to block the project. Change too much, and Western Copper will have to re-submit its proposal to the assessment board – a big setback.

Carmacks is the company’s most advanced project. It was intended to be a small, startup mine that would help fuel the company’s exploration work at other sites, such as its massive Casino project.

With copper reserves of 10.6 million tonnes, the Carmacks 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.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.