Yukon’s economic future looks bright: report

The Conference Board of Canada has predicted a strong economic future for the Yukon based on expected boosts to mineral production. "Real GDP will increase strongly by 6.

The Conference Board of Canada has predicted a strong economic future for the Yukon based on expected boosts to mineral production.

“Real GDP will increase strongly by 6.3 per cent in 2013 as mineral production continues to climb and construction gets a lift from mineral development,” according to the board’s Territorial Outlook report for winter 2013.

The board’s prediction for the Northwest Territories, by contrast, is only a 0.2 per cent growth in real GDP in 2013.

Yukon’s rosy picture, however, may not fully take into account risks and potential delays in bringing more mines into production. For example, the report indicates that Copper North plans to have all licences in place for their Carmacks Copper project by the end of 2013, and begin construction in 2014.

Those figures are taken from the company’s most recent feasibility study, released in late 2012.

However, that study also indicates that the company would submit its proposals to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board by the end of 2012, and that remains a step yet to be taken.

It is likely that the project will require approval by the board’s executive committee, and that process takes years, not months.

And the project has been struggling through the regulatory process for years already.

Copper North’s predecessors, Western Copper and Gold Corp., submitted a proposal for the Carmacks Copper project to YESAB back in 2006.

Assessors issued their decision in 2008, and the government subsequently issued a quartz-mining licence for the project.

The Yukon Water Board, however, denied in 2010 the company’s application for a water licence.

The company took the board’s decision to the Yukon Supreme Court, arguing that the board had overstepped its authority. The courts upheld the board’s decision.

The company has now tweaked its plans and has signed letters of intent to negotiate with Yukon Energy and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, but the project is far from a sure thing. They must now start from scratch with both YESAB and the water board.

On the other hand, the conference board report did acknowledge the uncertain future of the Brewery Creek gold mine near Dawson City.

YESAB determined in February that the mine would have to get executive committee approval, and not go through a lower-level assessment as the company hoped.

Now the company has closed its Whitehorse office and undergone a facelift.

Formerly known as Golden Predator, the company is now Americas Bullion Royalty Corp.

It is unclear whether the company plans to continue to invest in the Brewery Creek property. The company has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

While the mining sector can be risky, it contributes less to Yukon’s economy than some might guess.

“While the mining and construction industries tend to get most of the attention, the services side of the economy still makes up about 72 per cent of real GDP,” according to the report.

The board calls the service sector “a stabilizing force in the economy,” and predicts that it will grow at a rate of 2.3 per cent per year.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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