Yukon premier upset at federal decision stalling mine development in the territory

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WHITEHORSE — Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says a federal government decision to refer a proposed mining development back to a territorial assessment board sends a "troubling signal."

A statement from Silver's office says the referral creates "unreasonable and unnecessary uncertainty" for developer BMC Minerals.

The Kudz Ze Kayah project is a proposed open pit and underground zinc, silver, copper, gold and lead mine east of Whitehorse, and Silver says the territory's assessment board had already issued recommendations about it.

He says Yukon was prepared to accept the recommendations and proceed, but the federal referral derails any action.

The project has undergone four years of review since BMC Minerals took it over in January 2015.

Natural Resources Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Silver says his government opposes the referral and believes the territory's assessment board was reasonable to allow work to proceed with added improvements and monitoring.

"The Government of Canada absolutely needs to take steps to streamline these processes going forward to ensure greater clarity and certainty for the mining industry," Silver says in the release issued Monday.

A statement on the Kudz Ze Kayah website says the project should have annual production of just under 107,000 tonnes of zinc and smaller amounts of lead and copper over its nine-year life span, with all the ore shipped overseas through the port of Stewart in northwestern B.C.

BMC Minerals, an offshoot of United Kingdom-based BMC Ltd., says the project will provide jobs and business opportunities for Kaska First Nation citizens and local communities, supporting the territory and the rest of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press