A request for a water license at the old Whitehorse Copper mine is raising concerns about drinking water in the city.

Eagle Industrial Minerals wants to use water to mine the tailings at the site.

The Yukon Conservation Society’s mining coordinator, Lewis Rifkind, says disturbing the tailings could release contaminants.

mi-lewis-rifkind-yukon

Lewis Rifkind, with the Yukon Conservation Society, said it's not known what could happen if the tailings are disturbed at the old Whitehorse mine. (CBC)

"At the moment everything seems to be hunky-dory. Once we go back in and disturb it, will things get worse? Will there be increased leachate of various nasty metals into the groundwater table and then potentially into wells or into the Yukon River," he asked.

Environmentalists are not alone — the Yukon government is raising similar concerns. It's demanding assurances from the company that it can monitor any leaching of contaminants and deal with the situation, should it occur.