Yukon government, First Nations sign mining MOU

The Yukon government and the territory’s self-governing First Nations have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to work together on mining issues.

The Yukon government and the territory’s self-governing First Nations have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to work together on mining issues.

The MOU was announced at the Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver on Jan. 24.

The agreement means that the government and First Nations will have “one negotiation table” for discussing issues ranging from exploration to mine licensing, development and reclamation, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai told the News.

“Yukon First Nations recognize that the mining industry is an essential component to Yukon’s economy,” Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston said in a news release. “This MOU will assist in providing certainty for all parties, so we can build economic prosperity for the territory.”

The Yukon government made several other funding announcements at Roundup this week, including a commitment of $1.6 million for the Yukon mineral exploration program for the 2017 field season, up from $1.4 million last year.

The government has also pledged $375,000 over three years to the Yukon Chamber of Mines. Executive director Samson Hartland said $75,000 will go toward developing a guidebook for mining companies to help them engage with Yukon First Nations, while the rest is for regular operations.

Hartland said he hopes the guidebook will help reduce misunderstandings and conflicts between First Nations and the resource industry. He said the chamber is planning to visit every Yukon First Nation this summer to discuss what should be covered in the guide.

The government also announced $360,000 over three years to support the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association, most of which will fund standard operations. President Mike McDougall said $30,000 of the total will fund a research project with Ducks Unlimited, aimed at understanding the impacts of placer mining in the Indian River valley near Dawson City.

McDougall said the mood at Roundup this year is fairly bright.

“I get the sense that there’s a quiet sense of optimism,” he said. “And there’s certainly interest in the Yukon right now.”

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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