Question re: Brewery Creek mine - May 12, 2014

Mr. Silver:   I have a question about the Brewery Creek project near Dawson City. The project is owned by Golden Predator Mining Corporation. The company has owned the property for several years now and recently restarted their environmental screening to restart the mine.

As the minister knows, the company has spent a great deal of money on this project. The Government of Yukon has issued three placer mining leases on top of the Brewery Creek quartz mining project. Golden Predator has described these three leases as potentially fatal to the successful restart of the Brewery Creek mine.

What actions has the minister taken to resolve this issue?

Hon. Mr. Kent:    With respect to this specific issue, I did receive an e-mail with a letter attached from legal counsel and, as such, this is a legal issue so I cannot respond to any questions or supplementary questions about that specific project right now. What I can inform the House, though, is that, under Yukon law, the granting of placer rights that overlay quartz rights and vice versa — and we heard this directly from the president of the Klondike Placer Miners Association when the Premier and I had the opportunity to meet with him on Friday — is something that is permitted and is common throughout the territory.

Of course, members will understand that, as the mining company in question has sent a letter from their legal counsel, it would be inappropriate for me to comment specifically on this issue at this time.

Mr. Silver:   I’m very surprised with the minister’s approach. This is a major project in the Yukon and it has the potential to create a lot of jobs, both in Dawson City and in Whitehorse. The company has raised this issue with the minister and his response has basically been that we are not going to do anything about it.

Golden Predator has a quartz mining licence, a water licence and a class 4 mining land use permit, and they have also spent $30 million in advancing this project. That could be affected by these three new overlapping leases.

The company is of the view that these new leases pose serious jeopardy to the company’s ability to maintain its licences in compliance with the regulations.

Is the minister not concerned about the potential impact that these leases have with the reopening of the Brewery Creek mine?

Hon. Mr. Kent:    I didn’t mention that I wasn’t concerned about this. I did mention, though, that the first I heard about this issue was in a letter from legal counsel and, as such, that it has turned this into a legal matter. I referred that to the department for a response and I believe a response was sent from one of the Yukon government’s lawyers to the lawyer for the proponent.

As I mentioned, I cannot comment further on this specific issue until the legal aspects are resolved. All members under that, no matter what issue it is, if it’s something that’s before the courts or has been determined to be a legal matter, such as this, when there are aspects coming from the lawyer back and forth, it’s something we don’t comment on.

Again, in general under Yukon law, the granting of placer rights that overlay quartz rights and quartz rights that overlay placer rights is something that’s commonplace and is permitted throughout the territory.

Mr. Silver:   As far as I know, this is not before the courts. Also, through correspondence from the minister’s department, they’re not prepared to do anything about this.

Mr. Speaker, let’s change the tack here; maybe we’ll get an answer on this question. It’s my understanding that the Placer Mining Act says that proof of financial ability is required in order for the Government of Yukon to issue a lease out to someone. The act also requires a company to provide some type of security or a security bond.

Can the minister tell the House whether these leaseholders with the three new overlapping claims have provided this proof and the required securities?

Hon. Mr. Kent:    Again, the member opposite, in trying to spin my answer into his next supplementary question, failed to recognize that I said it’s not commonplace for us to comment on anything that is either before the courts or that has been raised by legal counsel. The first that I heard about this issue was in a letter from the company’s lawyer. Again, I’m not going to comment any further on this issue until the legal issues are resolved between the professionals who are involved.