A mineral exploration company working near Whitehorse has pleaded guilty to six charges under the Yukon's Quartz Mining Act.
B.C.-based Gladiator Metals has admitted to several violations of its operating permit in the Cowley Creek area, south of the city. Among other things, the company made clearings that were too large, upgraded roads without authorization, failed to contain drill fluids, and may have disturbed archeological artifacts.
The charges relate to work done between April 24 and May 12 this year.
The company has been drilling in the area near Cowley Creek to measure copper levels, under a permit for early-stage exploration.
According to an agreed statement of facts presented in Yukon Territorial Court on Friday, the company was given approval to proceed with its exploration program on April 18. The company was granted a Class 1 quartz exploration notification.
The statement then lists six ways the company exceeded the scope of its permit.
It states that in its claim area, Gladiator made nine clearings that exceeded 200 square metres, the maximum size allowed under its permit. It also states that the company upgraded sections of existing trail and access road without authorization, and left "several large ruts and gouges" on roads in the claim area, again in violation of its operating conditions.
Gladiator also failed to get approval from the Heritage Resources Unit before disturbing a certain area that had been set out on a map.
"Current information suggests archeological artifacts may have been disturbed, but a complete assessment is still underway," the statement of facts reads.
The company also failed to preserve the vegetative mat removed in some areas. The company's operating conditions required it to protect seed and root stocks within the mat, and to store it separately so it could later be restored in the area after the exploration program is done.
There were also issues with drill fluids seen "flowing into the nearby forest," and residue stains seen on the forest floor. The company's operating conditions require that all drill fluids be contained in a sump.
Gladiator's project raised concerns this past spring among local residents who complained about the "horrific mess" the company was making.
The statement of facts also lists work done by the company in response to the charges.
It says the company has fixed up the ruts and gouges, and also done reclamation work where the clearings were made and roads and trails upgraded, "to the extent that is possible given the soil conditions in the area."
The company has also now constructed appropriate sumps to contain drill fluids.
Gladiator is also cooperating with the Heritage Resources Branch to determine the impact of its disturbance to the areas where there may be archeological artifacts. The statement says a complete assessment, still underway, will determine whether more reclamation work is needed.
Gladiator will be back before Yukon Territorial Court on Aug. 30 for sentencing.