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Zinc mine company withdraws road application amid uncertainty on new rules

CEO says measures allowed under updated lands act may satisfy concerns about project
The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board recommended against the expansion of a mining road off the North Canol Road east of Ross River in 2021. Amid uncertainty around upcoming resource road, the company behind the application has withdrawn it. (Yukon News file)

The application for road access and camp expansion at a Zinc-mining exploration project northeast of Ross River has been withdrawn by the company that proposed it.

Brandon Macdonald, the CEO and director of Fireweed Zinc Ltd., said it became clear they would not get the class 4 quartz mining license required to reactivate the Nidd Main Road that branches off the North Canol Road. He said he thinks upcoming changes to the Yukon’s legislation around resource roads will lead to a better result on a future application.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board (YESAB) recommended against Fireweed Zinc’s project in the summer of 2021.

The recommendation would have gone before the Yukon government, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada for a decision, but Fireweed Zinc withdrew its application on April 20.

YESAB had noted concerns about the upgrading of a 13.5-kilometre section of road to accommodate larger vehicles. The road is currently used by snowmobiles and ATVs. The recommendation states there would be significant adverse effects on traditional land use and wildlife in relation to the ease of access for hunters that the road would allow.

Macdonald thinks YESAB’s concerns can be easily addressed if the Yukon Lands Act changes the government pledged to make last fall alter the rules around resource roads. He said regulations allowing the company to designate roads as private, manage access by a gate or other means and deactivate the road when work on the project is complete would address the concerns about the road’s impact.

During an April 13 session in the Yukon Legislature, Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent asked for an update on the drafting of new road regulations after the lands actchanges were made in the fall. He added that he heard from mining companies at a resource industry conference about the delays caused by uncertainty around the new regulations for roads.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources John Streicker replied that he could not immediately provide a firm date that the regulations would be drafted by but said work on them is ongoing.

“I agree that there is interest in the resource roads regulation. That is why we brought the amendment to the legislation this past fall. That’s why we’ve been keeping it as a priority,” he said.

Macdonald said his company will probably launch another application for the road project once the new regulations are in place.

In the meantime Macdonald said that although the class 4 mining license won’t be going forward, the class 1 license that Fireweed Zinc has will allow the company to complete the exploration work they had planned for this summer and a class 3 license with the application in progress will allow them to leave drill pads in place on the exploration project through next winter.

-With files from Haley Ritchie

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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