Mining and our economy – planning for the future, taking action now

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, January 29, 2016
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

Mining has been a cornerstone of Yukon’s economy and part of our culture for more than a century. Though it’s in a downturn now, it’s inevitable that the mining industry will recover and bring new prosperity and economic growth to the territory.

For this reason, it’s important that the Government of Yukon continues its work to promote the territory’s enormous mineral potential and advantages as a place to do business.

Earlier this week, ministers Scott Kent, Stacey Hassard, Wade Istchenko and I were proud to represent Yukon at the annual Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver. Roundup is an important event where geoscientists, prospectors, investors, First Nation partners and other industry representatives meet to share ideas that will help shape the future of mineral exploration and development in Canada.

It was an exciting and event-filled few days for the Yukon delegation, as we made a number of important announcements that will bring economic benefits to all Yukoners, every one of which is part of our long-term plan to make our territory stronger, more prosperous and self-sufficient.

Yukon has a long and rich history of mining, and an even longer and richer history of First Nations culture, stewardship, and traditional economies. Working with First Nations is key to Yukon’s mineral development and essential to our long-term prosperity.

To that end, an announcement I’m very proud of is the signing of several government-to-government agreements with the Kaska Nation, which comprises the Ross River Dena Council, the Liard First Nation and the Kaska Dena Council.

Over the past four years, I have learned a lot as a leader, and as a government we have learned a lot as well. As a result of that, we are seeing in the last year a new engagement and a new cooperation with First Nations.

These agreements are a major milestone toward reconciliation and a cooperative relationship between the Yukon government and the Kaska. Partnerships between our governments are needed to position Southeast Yukon as an important region for investment, exploration and development when mineral prices make their rebound. This cooperation marks the beginning of substantive negotiations toward further agreements related to lands and resources.

While at Roundup, we also announced that the Government of Yukon and the self-governing Yukon First Nations have developed a government-to-government protocol that will improve the clarity and management of mining activity in the territory.

The protocol is a way for governments to work together to build a strong mining regime that protects the environment, provides economic benefits to all Yukoners, and respects First Nation rights and interests.

Over the past week we also announced several other major contributions that will help Yukon’s mining industry thrive in the years ahead.

Economic Development Minister Stacey Hassard announced that the Yukon government will provide the Yukon Mining Alliance with almost $1 million over the next three years to attract international investment in Yukon’s mining sector. The YMA’s strategic marketing initiatives promote Yukon’s potential as a leading jurisdiction in Canada and internationally.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Scott Kent also made announcements about how we are supporting the hard rock and placer mining industries.

The Yukon government will provide $150,000 this year to the Yukon Chamber of Mines towards the implementation of a three-year, communications planning project, talking to Yukoners about the important benefits that Yukon mining brings to all our lives.

We will again be issuing double assessment credits for claimholders, and are continuing our funding commitment of $1.4 million for the Yukon Mineral Exploration Program.

We will be working this summer to improve mining roads across the territory. We committed to ensuring that seasonally maintained roads in the Klondike goldfields region are open for use as early in the spring as possible.

We have also submitted an application to the federal government for funding towards the Northern Resource Gateway Project. This project would improve road access into two of Yukon’s richest resource areas – the Dawson Range and the Nahanni Range.

Our government’s proactive approach to resolving issues and our continued support for industry are part of our long-term plan to generate sustainable economic opportunities.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with First Nations, industry and all of you to advance our shared goals of prosperity and economic development for Yukon.