YESAB inefficient and inconsistent, says Yukon Chamber of Mines

The Yukon Chamber of Mines says the territory's assessment board is flawed and needs fixing.

Chamber says it accepts YESAB's decisions, but not the amount of time they take

'The board took an inordinate amount of time to arrive at those conclusions,' said Samson Hartland, president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, about YESAB's Northern Cross and Casino Mine reviews. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

The Yukon Chamber of Mines says the territory's assessment board is flawed and needs fixing.

"YESAB desperately needs improvements in the areas of efficiency, consistency and procedural fairness," said Samson Hartland, chamber president. 

"There are systemic flaws."

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board (YESAB) reviews and makes recommendations about development projects in the territory. 

It recently sent two projects for higher levels of review: the massive Casino mine project northwest of Carmacks, and the Northern Cross oil and gas exploration project near Eagle Plains. 

A senior assessment officer with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) explains some of the concerns with the Casino proposal at a rare media briefing in Whitehorse last week. (CBC)

Hartland said the chamber accepts YESAB's decisions, but not the amount of time it takes. 

"To spend two years, or upwards of two years, in the adequacy review process [for the Casino project], as well with the Northern Cross decision — spending two years in the assessment process and then essentially having a decision to kick it to another level should take nowhere near that long to arrive at that conclusion."

YESAB started an adequacy review of Casino's proposal in January 2014, but the review was put on hold for six months in May of that year, at the request of the company and the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation. An adequacy review determines whether a proposal contains sufficient information to begin an assessment. 

When the adequacy report was released on Jan. 27, 2015, YESAB said Casino's application was "inadequate." It issued a 158-page report to the mine, with 449 questions. 

There have been several exchanges between Casino and YESAB over the past 13 months. Then on Feb. 18, YESAB announced it was sending the project for screening by a Panel of the Board.

Hartland argued YESAB's timelines and "ground rules" need to be more clear for proponents. 

He said the chamber will push government to make changes.

YESAB did not want to comment on the statements made by Hartland and the Chamber of Mines.

YESAB's up-to-date timeline of the Casino Project. (YESAB)

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