Yukon News

Open the Peel to exploration: chamber of mines

Jacqueline Ronson Monday January 21, 2013

Mike Thomas/Yukon News

Kokiw

Michael Kokiw is the Yukon Chamber of Mines' executive director.

The Yukon government’s modified Peel plans are too restrictive and could hurt the economy down the road, according to the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

We don’t know enough about the region’s economic potential or environmental value to make decisions that will restrict future use, said Michael Kokiw, the chamber’s executive director.

“It comes down to nobody knowing what’s there, and that’s a real concern. I mean, are we going to potentially make an area an entire park … that could be our children’s or our children’s children’s economic value in the Yukon?”

The Peel Watershed Planning Commission released its final recommended plan in 2011, asserting that 55 per cent of the area should be permanently set aside from roads, exploration and development, and that a further 25 per cent should be given interim protection.

In 2012 the Yukon government brought forward its own ideas of what the plan should look like. In its plans, roads could potentially be built anywhere in the watershed, and new exploration and development would be allowed in most of the area.

But even under these new plans, restrictions on access and high standards for mitigation would effectively shut down exploration in the watershed, said Kokiw.

“It’s impractical to think that people are going to be able to fly in a helicopter to all the spots to do exploration when there’s no value there,” he said. “They’re not going to spend that kind of money.”

In the government’s concepts, protected areas account for between 14 and 36 per cent of the watershed. Outside of protected areas, surface disturbance from all industrial activities, including roads, would be limited to between 0.2 and one per cent.

“To make broad strokes in an area the size of New Brunswick is a little bit radical,” said Kokiw. “And it also positions the Yukon as one of the most protected places in Canada. And that’s a shame considering our North is known for its resource industry.”

The chamber understands that sensitive areas should be protected, he said.

“We have very sensitive ecological areas that do need to be avoided completely, 100 per cent, and that is true. But we don’t even know where those are. Nobody knows, and we’re making decisions that could economically handicap ourselves in future generations.”

The industry is interested in working with First Nations to identify sensitive areas and make sure they are protected, said Kokiw.

Exploration workers have an appreciation for the land very similar to that of First Nations, he said.

“These are prospectors, local Yukoners who have been working on the land, who have a respect for that land, for sometimes 20, 30, intergenerational years. These are the livelihoods we’re hurting.”

The First Nations involved with the Peel plan have asked for 100 per cent protection of the region, but say they would settle for the commission’s recommended plan. They have threatened to take the fight to court if the government goes forward with its modified proposals.

The chamber of mines is encouraging its members and all Yukoners to engage with the final round of consultation on the Peel land use plan at http://www.peelconsultation.ca by February 25.

It has an open-door policy and is happy to inform anybody of the consequences for the industry if a protectionist plan is put in place, said Kokiw.

“We wouldn’t mind Yukoners pausing for a moment and remembering that when there was no resource industry, seven or eight years ago, the Yukon was a very different place.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

26 Comments

asif wrote:
11:26pm Friday February 1, 2013

Mining comes and goes in Yukon, the mineral prices will drop and the mining companies will leave and leave a mess. Tourism has always sustained Yukon through these times - no pristine land means less tourism. Jobs? really now, the mines have always brought in the majority their own workers and contractors from outside or the US… that is fact.

peel=park wrote:
10:36pm Wednesday January 30, 2013

“Exploration workers have an appreciation for the land very similar to that of First Nations, he said.”

Hmmm one can see he has never been in the Dawson area…...

bunjee girl wrote:
1:17am Wednesday January 30, 2013

Yukoner27…by that reckoning then the Yukon Party has no mandate - supported only by a small minority of all eligible Yukoners.

Krysta Meekins wrote:
4:33am Tuesday January 29, 2013

I agree with Mike Kokiw.  I think the government’s modified plans are much too restrictive to our important mining industry.  However, they are still a far cry better than the one-sided recommendations from the advisory planning commission.  I hope everyone takes the time to comment on the consultation website.

Yukoner27 wrote:
1:41am Tuesday January 29, 2013

Part 2

For those who reference the influx of money from Ottawa on our annual budgets. It is contingent on how well the other places in Canada are doing, which iF the news tells us anything not everyone is fairing the best. If the provinces need more money than were going to lose more money. Not to mention Harpers looking to cut a deficit any way possible and taking away the hundreds of millions of federal dollars that come to the Yukon wouldn’t be hard to do.
 
Mining tends to have a trickledown effect on the economy. The big wigs get the money and pay the workers the stubs. The workers (say many are yukoners) then go and buy and consume goods; be it a new car from a Whitehorse dealership, or milk from the local store. From there the stores do the same process. All that generated from pulling rocks from the ground.

Yukoner27 wrote:
1:39am Tuesday January 29, 2013

Part 1
Just a few quick key points:
The DataPath Poll was limited to only 508 Yukoners, not nealy enough to say that 80% of Yukoners want the peel to be closed to mining.

Things were slower several years ago because we didn’t have a recession. After which commodities, like the natural resources in our ground, became more valuable. People then saw how much money could be made and due to the capital nature of North Americans tried to make a living from it. The price of these can go up and down with the market and if they drop in price then what we have is useless.

How many people posting on here or Yukoners in general actually go to the Peel on a regular basis? Would I be wrong in saying most of you aren’t planning on spending your long weekend in May canoeing the rivers. To say that you are protecting something that many people don’t even bother with surprises me.

Bob'n Bob wrote:
5:14pm Monday January 28, 2013

FRAC THE PEEL

Open the door to Oil and Gas Development and all mining.
Preserve and save Kluane national Park, the Fishing Branch and the existing protected areas.

Develop the PEEL now.
Time to stop listening to the bleeding heart eco terrorists!
Time to stop listening to half-cocked Vancouver lawyers (albeit FN) who come here with partial facts and feed drivel to sheep.

Paul Christensen wrote:
8:42pm Sunday January 27, 2013

With his opening statements, Mr. Kokiw throws out the following red herrings: “The Yukon government’s modified Peel plans are too restrictive and could hurt the economy down the road” “I mean, are we going to potentially make an area an entire park … that could be our children’s or our children’s children’s economic value in the Yukon?”
But I guess thats his job.  Has he even read the PWPC’s report?  No where did it say to make the area off limits that would restrict it forever. The commision had our and our childrens futures in mind when they drafted the report.  To not limit us economically, to protect certain areas now so that we did have choices in the future.
We have more potential mines right now than we could handle if projects like Casino go ahead.  We have the time to plan properly.

Mybrainhurts wrote:
9:04pm Saturday January 26, 2013

“We have very sensitive ecological areas that do need to be avoided completely, 100 per cent, and that is true. But we don’t even know where those are. Nobody knows, and we’re making decisions that could economically handicap ourselves in future generations.”

This, lets have exploration everywhere to find out? 

There are so many ignorant quotes that he’s made it’s hard to start any criticism, without a post that pretty much says “derp derp derpa herp derp”.  The Yukon has a current lack of investors in the mining and exploration business due to several factors (world economic state benign the highest).  This area is simply not required to be developed for the Yukon to prosper.  The YG has a chance to preserve an area for generations, yet they focus on trying to make quick investments.

I encourage everyone to write in their opinions to the current consultation, regardless of its slap in the face to the prior judgements (and taxpayer money).  Intelligent responses speak louder than bumper stickers….unless those stickers are hilarious.

yannissimo wrote:
11:31am Thursday January 24, 2013

let’s just leave the all the economic and environmental stuff aside for a second and acknowledge the dangerous precedent this will set if YG can get away with all this. The consultations have been completed. It was a fair, transparent and public process that took years! YG, along with all other stakeholders were fully represented at every single meeting and the final report was drafted and agreed upon - by everyone involved. That’s a lot of effort spent on a single process. For someone to even think it’s ok to re-open the whole thing unilaterally is bad enough but if they actually managed to get away with it and push their own agenda through then what kind of precedent does that set for the future? What would the point be in even pretending that these things are decided open and fairly? If it is possible for one group to turn around so many years of work and consultation then we are on a worryingly direct one-way future where things can be decided ‘publicly’ as long as the conclusions are ‘suitable’. The public have made their point clearly, the FN’s have made their point clearly, the local residents likewise, the tourism industry, the environmentalists, local governments - even YG made their point. I can’t understand how these guys are still keeping this issue open for debate? It’s so unbelievably arrogant.

stan rogers wrote:
10:11pm Wednesday January 23, 2013

I have been to 2 protests in the legislature regarding protection of the Peel. I was pleasantly surprised at the range of ages- young people to many people from 60’s to 80’s perhaps older.

The Peel issue resonates with people of all ages. The protestors are passionate about protecting a very special area. They are the average Yukoner and the Yukon establishment.

As Bobby Bitman said “What a shill game!  The Chamber of Mines pretending they can’t live with the outrageous and egresious (sp) actions of the Yukon Party to dispense of the Peel Plan in favour of a plan that opens the entire area to roads for mining development.  This is how they pretend to ‘compromise’.  What a joke.  I am not buying it.  How lacking in intelligence do they think people are?”

The Yukon Chamber of Mines “has an open-door policy and is happy to inform anybody of the consequences for the industry if a protectionist plan is put in place, said Kokiw.” Maybe its time for a rally there and to fill their office to politely show that Kokiw is spouting a lot of nonsense.

Blink wrote:
5:58pm Wednesday January 23, 2013

“We don’t know enough about the region’s economic potential or environmental value to make decisions that will restrict future use”....

Have you had your head buried in a tailings pile? Honestly. What drivel. A show to pretend their YP buddies are being too hard on them.

We’ve spent years talking about the environmental and economic potential and Yukoners have said that the environmental potential outweighs the benefits of mining the crap out of the region.

Rorex21 wrote:
1:52am Wednesday January 23, 2013

Government Fail,

To say you misunderstand the reality of the situation would be an understatement. If you were simply suggesting a increase in royalities your position could be easily supported but to insinuate that the Chinesse are operating under some “questionable agenda” is silly. Furthermore the idea that all resources mined or extracted from Canada should stay in Canada is absurd. What your are suggesting is a protectionist foreign policy and one needs to look no further then south america to see how that works out. The high standard of living we enjoy in this country is the result of our extremely low population per square KM and our abundance of natural resources. If we were to persue your suggested ideas not only would our economy collapse, our unemployement rates sky rocket and our standard of living would substantially decline. with regard to your claim that China has a thirst for resources unprecedented in modern times perhaps you should take that thought one step further and consider what they do with those resources. Do they just consume them or do they perhaps use them to produce all the new age gadgets, products, and items which we in North America have a thirst for unprecedented in modern times.

I agree the government is horrible at doing what is right not to mention doing it effeciently but your world views are down right scary.

bobby bitman wrote:
1:52am Wednesday January 23, 2013

What a shill game!  The Chamber of Mines pretending they can’t live with the outrageous and egresious (sp) actions of the Yukon Party to dispense of the Peel Plan in favour of a plan that opens the entire area to roads for mining development.  This is how they pretend to ‘compromise’.  What a joke.  I am not buying it.  How lacking in intelligence do they think people are?

yukonborn wrote:
6:58pm Tuesday January 22, 2013

PART 2
I prefer to see it stay that way…call me isolationist or backwoods thinking if ya want. I LIKE the Yukon small. I like it slow. I like it unique. I like that my kids have had a chance to see it largely as I have. The money grubbers, foreign states, budding polititions and government ladder climbers can kiss my ass. I love it when I see the large resource interests become frustrated my our first nations and the population at large. The resources will be here until they aren’t. While they are…they are and they still retain their intrinsic value…which will only increase as time goes on and resources become more scarce. Our ace in the hole which only has value until played.

yukonborn wrote:
6:57pm Tuesday January 22, 2013

PART 1

An amateur geologist friend and I were hiking and stood at a local peak looking out over the lakes, forests and nearby peaks. Of course my adeptness at stating the obvious pointed out the the beauty surrounding us. My friend, who prospects and rockhounds regularly observed that in the mining / geology sectors the Yukon has a reputation for being rich in natural resources yet manages to, so far, having been able to avoid large scale exploitation. This makes it unique he went on to state….and I agreed…the Yukon is a unique place; a special place. That was about 25 years ago and here we are…still largely unscathed by corporate interests and the voracious appetites of foreign interests. You can only say this of our territory until it is no longer true….then what? You’ll be able to say that the Yukon WAS a beautiful and unique place until we prostituted her beauty and value for short term gain. What is the hurry? Is there a big push to expand our population? A desire for “progress” in the name of progress? Maybe there’s a reason our population up here has stayed relatively stable for so long, I think there is.

bunjee girl wrote:
6:10pm Tuesday January 22, 2013

Gosh…where to start? The Yukon Chamber of Mines’ executive director saying “We don’t know enough about the region’s…..environmental value.” I reckon, following the work of the planning commission the Peel Watershed is one of the best researched (and environmentally important) areas in the country. Has Mr Kikow actually read the Plan or the background material?

And Bill J…...the Peel plan “represented the most vocal…”? Firstly, I can’t think of any industry more ‘vocal’ (especially behind closed doors) than oil and gas. Secondly, the Peel may have been a hot topic during the election, but not for the Yukon Party. Remember it stayed remarkably quite stating it would not take a position until after the final round of consultation. And, 80% of Yukoners support the Final Recommended Plan – why not just accept it?

In the long-term (which should concern us all) the area’s financial value, let alone its environmental importance, will far outweigh immediate mineral extraction. Check out this report on the Mackenzie Delta: http://www.borealcanada.ca/documents/MackenzieReport_2010.pdf.

Have a great day everyone.

Government FAIL wrote:
3:48pm Tuesday January 22, 2013

The issue that really needs to be addressed here in the Yukon is not weather we should mine or protect the Peel, the Issue is that YG and the feds poor foreign policy and resource management is going to cripple our local and National economy in the long run. All of the Large mining companies are selling off our resources to China where demand is highest, now we have Chinese Investors in the Territory and even Chinese Mining operation, this in turns creates high demand for our resources which the Yukon and Canada sees little benefit. The one fact that every one seems to be ignoring is that China is a Communist Super Power, NOT A DEMOCRACY! Their high population creates a thirst for resources that is unprecedented in modern times. Keep on mining Yukon but WE should all benefit from our own Resource extraction, then the resources should be processed and used with in Canada, NOT off to a country with a questionable agenda. Don’t protect the Peel, protect the Yukon, until the Toddlers behind the Yukon party’s desks get kicked out or Grow Up.

Saddened wrote:
4:56am Tuesday January 22, 2013

I’m disappointed to read that someone actually believes that preserving a piece of our beautiful country may damage the pocket books of the wealthy… Bad call, Mike, bad call

mlehner wrote:
2:43am Tuesday January 22, 2013

I have this many times and will continue to say it: Industry and environmental responsibility CAN go hand-in-hand. No one wants to see the Peel region “destroyed” or “flattened” as some have suggested will happen if industry is allowed in there. The Yukon has EXCELLENT mining regulations. Many operating mines such as Minto, Yukon Zinc, etc, run perfectly fine within our regulatory system. These operations provide jobs and economy stability to our territory. Not all of us are government employees. Not all of us have a union that ensures our seniority and guaranteed pay raises. We all enjoy healthy federal transfer payments. As such, we all have a responsibility to contribute to Canada overall. We have great natural resources, and being able to access those resources in a responsible and acceptable fashion is not something we should lobby against, but rather encourage. If the debate is complete protection vs complete open-industry, is 0.2% surface disturbance not a reasonable compromise ?

Tom wrote:
2:12am Tuesday January 22, 2013

I could really care less about the potential short term negative effects to the economy if the Peel is protected from development.  The long term benefits of keeping this vast pristine and intact wilderness area will far out weigh the short term gains that the Yukon will see from opening this area up to mining and resource extraction.

none of the $$$ will stay in the Yukon anyways, most of the claims that were staked in the exploration boom are held by forign groups anyways (thanks to the Yukon Bull $%^& open door policy to exploration and staking)

The People of the Yukon will have far greater long term gains by maintaining the Peel as pristine wilderness, simply thru the personal satisfaction that people will have from protecting this area.

The Mining industry is full of good intentions and alot of talk about how their reclamation efforts will leave the area in better shape then when they first arrived there, but unfortunately their track record does not prove this to be true. 

Lets not let a greedy conservative government sell out our precious part of the country to a bunch of foregin mining company just for a quick money grab.

sunhat77 wrote:
1:12am Tuesday January 22, 2013

Concerned, I couldn’t agree with you more.
Seven or eight years ago, the Yukon was doing quite alright. One could actually purchase a house for a reasonable price, quite unlike the situation we have now. The government’s slow reaction to the new ‘boom’ is what created the housing problem that we’re still dealing with. If the Peel is opened with the government’s plan, I fear that it will only add to the housing situation, and I don’t think the government is capable of mitigating that situation as it arises.
So the Peel project isn’t exactly going to raise our standard of living or quality of life. If anything, its just going to make it even more unaffordable to live here.

Concerned wrote:
12:21am Tuesday January 22, 2013

The Yukon was a very different place indeed. I remember housing actually being affordable and can’t recall anyone complaining about quality of life. Sure some people have benefitted greatly financially from this boom but the majority of Yukoners are struggling with the lack of affordable housing and the inflated cost of living and housing prices. Wages have not kept up and I would like to see it go back to the different place it was 8 years ago.

As to the Peel and as mentioned above, how can the government and the chamber of mines keep ignoring the Peel Planning Commission report that had input from many Yukoners over a long period of time?

What would be wrong with the Yukon being the most protected place in Canada? The natural beauty and living resources are incredibly valuable despite their worth not being recognized in our economy.

It is unique already and no sense ruining the environment to make a few rich.

Bill J wrote:
11:13pm Monday January 21, 2013

Stan I dont think saying the Peel Planning Commission’s report was a balanced recommendation is accurate, it represented the most vocal… and with the Peel being one of the hot topics in the past election surprising that a pro development government got in and not a protectionist one as the Peel Planning Commission’s report might have indicated.

Chris K wrote:
10:52pm Monday January 21, 2013

“It has an open-door policy and is happy to inform anybody of the consequences for the industry if a protectionist plan is put in place, said Kokiw. “

What about the consequences to the environment if the industrial plan is put in place?

stan rogers wrote:
10:38pm Monday January 21, 2013

“It has an open-door policy and is happy to inform anybody of the consequences for the industry if a protectionist plan is put in place, said Kokiw.”

Mr. Kokiw fails to note that the Peel Planning Commission represented Yukoners with a balanced recommendation. People know the consequences of protecting an area from mining development. They have chosen protection for this special area.

Would the industry feel better if the area was made a park?

If the indistry wants to be effective why not pioneer extraction methods that involve no roads and flying people and supplies in and ore out via aircraft for other locations (ie dirigibles).

The mining industry has work at building confidence among people who enjoy wilderness and the outdoors. The legacy of Faro and the many examples of poor stewardship by this industry makes people very skeptical of their motives.

Add a comment

Commenting is no longer available for this story. Commenting expires 21 days after publishing.