Map of coal leases around Division Mountain. A map shows coal leases around Division Mountain. (YESAB file)

Yukon coal project a ‘non-story,’ proponent says

Prospecting near North Klondike Highway would take two weeks

A proposal to explore for coal under review by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board is now open for public comment.

The project would take place 90 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse, 20 km off the North Klondike Highway at Division Mountain. If approved by YESAB, it would cover prospecting for coal and last for two years. It would include drilling up to 10 holes up to 1000 metres deep, mechanical digging, geological and prospecting mapping, creating a one-kilometre long access trail, cleaning of existing trails and water use.

The proposed project site is located within the traditional territories of the Champagne and Aishihik, Little Salmon Carmacks, Kwanlin Dun and Ta’an Kwach’an First Nations.

Lewis Rifkind, energy analyst for the Yukon Conservation Society, said coal is not currently used as a fuel source anywhere in the Yukon, although it was mined for heat in the Gold Rush days. Large coal claims still exist in the Braeburn and Peel areas, he said.

The Yukon Energy Mines and Resources webpage lists coal as “a local energy resource that has the potential to supply both local needs and export markets.”

“It’s basically a small project,” said Rifkind. “It’s not the end of the world, from a mining perspective … but what they’re looking for (coal) is extremely environmentally destructive.”

If coal were found, it would likely be sent to China or Korea for export, but “we will get it right back in the form of pollution and climate change,” he said.

“This is exactly the kind of mining you don’t want up here if you’re concerned about the environment.”

The project proponent, Kevin Brewer, is a consultant geologist and works for 2560344 Ontario Inc., a small company owned by Toronto-based Forbes and Manhattan Group. He said the project is extremely small in scope, with a budget of only $100,000, and has to do with acquisitions from a small company called Pitchblack Resources.

Pitchblack Resources took up several coal projects from a company called Cash Resources, but didn’t do any coal mining, he said. The company was involved in remediation work in the Peel region, and won an environmental award, Brewer said.

Brewer said the area of the site is limited and that work on things like trenches will be remediated as the work proceeds. He does not expect the work to last more than two weeks, but gave himself up to two years in the application in case of unforeseen issues or delays in the weather.

“The work is being conducted by a new company that has been recently formed and does not intend to focus its activities on coal or the development of coal in Yukon,” Brewer stated via email.

When asked why prospect for coal at all, Brewer declined to say. But he said “when you are a new public company, you need a new qualifying transaction.”

“In regards to coal for us in the Yukon, this is a non-story,” he said.

The project is still before YESAB and the proposal is exploratory in nature. People can comment on the proposal until August 15.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com

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