YG, Dawson miner grapple with land swap

The Yukon government has no policy to exchange mining claims for title to land. But that is exactly what Dawson placer miner Mike Heisey is hoping to do with his two controversial claims in the Dredge Pond subdivision.

The Yukon government has no policy to exchange mining claims for title to land.

But that is exactly what Dawson placer miner Mike Heisey is hoping to do with his two controversial claims in the Dredge Pond subdivision.

And the territorial government has confirmed it is considering that proposal.

Heisey recently applied to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board to renew his permits to work the claims.

The two claims predate the law against staking within municipal boundaries. They butt up against residential properties in the Klondike Valley subdivision, just south of downtown Dawson.

As well as being in a residential neighbourhood, the claims straddle the Klondike River, which is a source of drinking water and salmon habitat. The river is travelled by tourists and is also important to wildlife.

On March 2, the assessment board requested more information from Heisey, including details on his plans to ford the river.

After receiving no response within the 28-day time limit, the board withdrew the project application and stopped the assessment.

In a telephone interview earlier this month, Heisey admitted he wasn’t too worried the application was withdrawn because as far as he was concerned talks with the Yukon government about the land had already begun.

But the territory doesn’t have a policy to allow for an exchange of claims for land, said John Cole, manager of client services for the land management branch.

“I’ve talked to (Heisey) directly and I’ve indicated to him that we don’t have a policy that accommodates that at this point and time,” he said.

But the issue has gone to senior officials at the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, with meetings scheduled to take place “imminently,” Cole said.

There has never been a proposal like this put forward during Cole’s five years with the branch, he said.

“There’s just no policy to do it.”

There have been squatter programs in the past, which may have considered something similar, but there is no precise law to exchange mining claims for title to the land, he said.

Certain factors with Heisey’s claims will likely be considered, such as the fact his claims are located within a residential neighbourhood.

But the precedent set by negotiating an exchange could have implications for the future of staking, as well as the territory’s ability to persuade miners to give up controversial claims.

If Heisey does give up his claims, he would not be able to stake new ones in the same area, thanks to the 2003 territorial order against that.

If he were given title, he would not be able to mine on that land without the subsurface rights a mining claim provides.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at roxannes@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted


Wyatt’s World for May 5, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. They formally announced that as of Nov. 20, anyone entering the territory (including Yukoners returning home) would be required to self-isolate with the exception of critical service workers, those exercising treaty rights and those living in B.C. border towns
Vaccinated people won’t have to self-isolate in the Yukon after May 25

Restaurants and bars will also be able to return to full capacity at the end of the month.

An RV pulls into Wolf Creek Campground to enjoy the first weekend of camping season on April 30, 2021. John Tonin/Yukon News
Opening weekend of Yukon campgrounds a ‘definite success’

The territorial campgrounds opened on April 30. Wolf Creek was the busiest park seeing 95 per cent of sites filled.

Visitors from Ushiku, Japan visit the Carcross Desert as part of the exchange program Ushiku and Whitehorse have. The previously annual exchange has been cancelled for 2021 due to COVID-19. (Submitted)
Whitehorse-Ushiku sister city exchange cancelled

Officials said the exchange is cancelled due to COVID-19

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: rent caps and vaccines

To Sandy Silver and Kate White Once again Kate White and her… Continue reading

Most Read