Yukon government may abandon changes to Quartz Mining Act

Industry groups wrote to the territory's mines minister in August, stating concerns with a 'lack of transparency, openness' in consultations about the proposed amendments.

Industry groups complained of 'lack of transparency and openness regarding consultation' on amendments

A letter sent in August to Yukon's Mines Minister Ranj Pillai asks for a second round of consultation with stakeholders on proposed amendments to Yukon's Quartz Mining Act. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Yukon's Mines Minister Rani Pillai says the government may abandon its plans to amend the territory's Quartz Mining Act.

This summer, the government conducted a public consultation about proposed changes to the legislation which governs hard rock mining in the territory.

The proposed amendments would enable the Yukon government to reach agreements with First Nations on when staking rights could be withdrawn, and also potentially reach agreement with First Nations limiting who can stake, prospect, and mine for minerals. The amendments would also give the purchaser of an abandoned mine sole access to the mineral rights, along with the obligation to remediate the site.

In August, a letter signed by the presidents of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada was sent to Pillai. It revealed the industry was unhappy with the consultation process.

The organizations noted "concern over the Government of Yukon's lack of transparency and openness regarding consultation," adding that "we are unable to provide meaningful feedback on amendments we cannot read."

The groups asked to see the actual proposed changes, and requested the government then open another consultation period with stakeholders lasting at least 60 days.

Last week, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver told CBC there would be no amendments to the Quartz Mining Act during the fall sitting — which began this week — but did not elaborate why at that time. 

Amendments deferred

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon at the legislature, Pillai committed to showing industry any amendments before they were introduced in the Legislative Assembly.

"Absolutely," Pillai said. "If we were ever to table that, we would come forward and we would sit down with industry groups."

Pillai went on to say that the government heard a lot from both industry and First Nations during the earlier consultations.

The department of Energy, Mines and Resources had sent a letter in July to the Yukon Chamber of Mines. It explains that the proposed amendments would expand the government's ability to prohibit access to where mineral claims, prospecting and mining for minerals may occur.

It also says that part of the amendments is designed to further "reconciliation and accommodation" with a First Nation.

The Yukon government's consultation period on the amendments closed on August 21. 

"We've had some very explicit feedback from both industry and First Nations that if we were going to table that legislation, it would need a tremendous amount of work. We wanted to test the waters, to see if this was a place we should go," Pillai said.

"It's really important for me to listen to that, and if we think that there's other priorities that are more important to make sure that we improve and modernize our industry, that's what we're going to work on."


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