Working for and with our mining industry

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale NorthAs Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 12, 2016
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources

Since our government was elected in 2011, we have remained committed to supporting and promoting mining and mineral exploration in the territory. This is because we want Yukoners to have rewarding jobs and all the opportunities possible to build great lives for themselves and their families. Continuing to grow a strong economy, including a strong mining sector, is an essential part of reaching that goal. Our work to date includes regulatory process improvements, infrastructure upgrades, investment attraction, enhancement of training opportunities and credit and incentive programs.

One of our most significant initiatives is the enhancement of the Yukon Mineral Exploration Program (YMEP), formerly the Yukon Mining Incentive Program (YMIP). This program has been instrumental in assisting prospectors by providing a portion of the capital needed to locate, explore and develop mineral projects to an advanced exploration stage. The program provides economic incentives for individuals and companies to operate locally and invest in the Yukon economy, and it has proven to leverage more outside investment at a time when raising capital is challenging.

Over the last five years, we have dedicated $6.8 million to support 314 hard rock and placer projects through YMEP. In recognition of market challenges, we increased the annual budget to $1.4 million in 2014.

We have also made significant investments in infrastructure development to assist the mining industry, particularly through our Resource Access Roads Program. This provides $500,000 annually to upgrade and improve roads that are used to access natural resources. In 2015, this fund supported repairs to several mining access roads, including the Dawson Mining Roads, Duncan Creek Road and the South McQuesten Road. Funding critical infrastructure improves access for miners and prospectors, and keeps Yukoners working.

At a time when exploration activity is not at its peak, it is also important for our government to ensure prospectors can keep their mining claims in good standing. So we established a double assessment credit to allow claimholders to file for twice the value of work done on their claims in that year. This initiative provides direct benefits to industry because the double credit for work completed equates to a direct financial break for exploration companies. We maintain these programs because we recognize the importance of our mineral industry even during slower periods of development, and we want to encourage companies to continue working to stimulate our local economy.

In addition to our credit programs, our government’s commitment to keeping mines operating and encouraging growth has also been facilitated through improving regulatory processes and integrating resource management.

Most recently, our government has been leading the Mine Licensing Improvement Initiative (MLII), in partnership with assessors, regulators, First Nations and industry, to improve timelines, clarity, transparency and effectiveness of the mine licensing system. MLII was created as a cooperative effort to provide certainty to individuals and companies doing business in the territory.

We have also invested in new access to training to help Yukoners take advantage of job opportunities in mining, exploration and other sectors, and to provide a skilled labour force for companies doing business here. This includes our investment, along with our partners, in the new Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining (CNIM) at Yukon College and the CNIM mobile trades training trailer which strengthens local capacity and skills.

Our government remains committed to marketing Yukon mining prospects to outside investors. This gives us the opportunity to demonstrate to companies from around the world that Yukon remains one of the best places to explore, develop and mine. In addition, we continue to work with the Yukon Mining Alliance to facilitate Investment and Property Tours, which bring investors to visit our territory and see for themselves the incredible exploration potential.

Our goals for the territory have always been to maintain an internationally-competitive investment climate with a focus on regulatory certainty and efficient licensing, and we will continue to develop innovative ways to position Yukon at the forefront of mining worldwide.

Furthermore, we continually engage with the federal government, First Nation governments and stakeholders to ensure the mining and resource development industry continues to be a priority for all.