Miners on the cusp of losing their Peel Watershed claims just hit paydirt.
In March, Energy, Mines and Resources forgave claim work on 2,300 mineral claims in the region.
Now claims set to expire can be held for free until February 2011.
“It gives them a break,” said Mines’ mineral, planning and development manager Bryony McIntyre.
Until the fate of the Peel Watershed is decided, McIntyre wants things to remain “status quo.”
“But the 3,000 claims staked in the last three years, hugely upset the status quo of the Peel,” said Peel Planning Commission spokesman Dave Loeks.
“We asked for a moratorium four years ago on staking, and there’s been more than 2,500 claims staked since then,” he said.
Loeks didn’t know Energy, Mines and Resources had issued more than 2,300 relief orders in March.
“The commission is astonished it wasn’t told about this,” he said.
“It’s even more mystified by the reasoning, which seems to contradict what the government did by not granting the moratorium.”
There are about 9,000 claims in the Peel Watershed, and nearly 2,400 of them were to expire, said McIntyre.
Claims expire if miners don’t do sufficient work on them, like trenching, drilling and “geotech,” she said.
If miners don’t do the work, but want to keep their claims, they can simply pay $100 per claim, per year to keep them active.
This year, those requirements have been waived.
“The rationale is that while the Peel plan is reviewed, if I had a claim that was expiring, and I’m trying to raise the money to be able to actually do the work, then I might not be able to raise the money,” said McIntyre.
“So, this gives people a break for this time period, and makes sure, like I said, that the status quo remains in terms of who’s out there.”
The relief order is not for all the claim holders in the Peel, she added.
“It’s only for those who were going to lose that because they couldn’t raise any money.
“We don’t want to see the landscape change.”
The “entire thing is incomprehensible,” said Loeks.
When there was no staking moratorium, “they were absolutely willing to change the face of the Peel.
“They just don’t seem willing to allow it to revert to the way it was when the plan first started.”
If the Peel is protected, miners may demand compensation for their claims in the region.
By offering relief orders, the government just ensured there are 2,400 more claims it could have to buy up.
“I can’t speak to that,” said McIntyre.
The last time a major relief order like this was issued in the territory was during devolution in 2003, she said.
The companies issued the relief order in the Peel include: cash-strapped uranium producer Cash Minerals Ltd., Mega Uranium Ltd., Shawn Ryan, Archer Cathro & Associates (1981) Ltd., Denis Jacob, Tarsis Capital Corp., Michael
Power, 37999 Yukon Inc., Phelps Dodge Corporation of Canada Ltd., Fronteer Development Group Inc., and Signet Minerals Inc.
Contact Genesee Keevil at