Yukon gov't, Canadian mining industry at odds over carbon tax

The Yukon government and the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) disagree when it comes to a carbon tax. No way, says Yukon, while MAC says it should be part of a 'pan-Canadian' approach to climate change.

Mining Association of Canada supports putting a price on carbon

'We are not going to punish our resources industries' with a carbon tax, Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski said in his budget speech last week. (CBC)

Canada's largest mining association is calling for a carbon tax on all sectors of the economy — something the mining-friendly Yukon government has rejected outright.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) issued a document on Wednesday, outlining "principles for climate change policy design." It calls for a "broad-based carbon price" for all Canadian industries, including mining.

The association's president and CEO, Pierre Gratton, said a carbon tax is "the most effective and efficient means of driving emissions reductions and making real progress in the fight against climate change."

Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of Canada, said the industry group's stand on carbon pricing represents 'an evolution in our thinking.' (Mining Association of Canada)

​According to the Canadian Industrial End Use Data Analysis Centre (CIEUDAC), total greenhouse gas emissions from operating mines (excluding coal and oil sands mining) accounted for 1.1 per cent of Canada's direct and indirect emissions in 2014. 

MAC's stand comes a week after Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski — a vocal supporter of mining in the territory — took pains to denounce a carbon tax as something that "doesn't work" for Yukon or the "northern way of life."

"We are not going to punish our resource industries and place them in an uncompetitive position," Pasloski said as he delivered the territorial budget.

Enabling change in the North

"To a certain degree I respect where he's coming from," said Gratton. "You do need to take into account geographical realities that face parts of Canada."

Yukon's Minto mine, north of Whitehorse, is currently the territory's only working mine. (Capstone Mining)

MAC's climate change document calls for a carbon tax to be "revenue neutral," by investing money generated through the tax into developing technologies that produce lower emissions.

It says any such tax should be "simple, complementary and effective," and should work "in tandem" with provincial efforts. 

Gratton said he understands that costs for industry are higher in the North, and so it's harder for the territories to sustain new costs, or afford substantial change.

A carbon tax could actually help, he suggests. 

"It may well be a regime that has parts of Southern Canada enabling Northern Canada to make progress that it can't on its own," he said.

"I think all of us have an obligation to do what we can."