Plan may spur ‘environmental fragmentation’: conservationist – by Emily Blake (Whitehorse Daily Star – September 11, 2017)

http://www.whitehorsestar.com/

Some environmental groups are expressing concerns about the Yukon Resource Gateway Project

Some environmental groups are expressing concerns about the Yukon Resource Gateway Project following a commitment of more than $360 million in federal and territorial funding. The project will see improved road access in the Dawson Range, located between Carmacks and Dawson City, and the Nahanni Range Road in southeast Yukon, both mineral-rich areas in the territory.

And while members of the mining industry and government are applauding the funding announcement, there are concerns about the lack of information on environmental impacts. “We’re not supportive of these projects until we get more information,” Lewis Rifkind, a mining analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society, told the Star last week.

“We’re opening up vast swaths of the Yukon to environmental fragmentation.” He worries about how the infrastructure project might affect woodland caribou. He said an extreme example of this is logging and oil and gas roads in Alberta, where the woodland caribou population has been reduced to around 7,000.

The proposed access road to the Casino mine goes through the heart of the Klaza caribou grounds, and has an estimated use of 126 heavy duty trucks per day. The potential impact on the caribou herd, along with a controversial tailings dam, was why the executive committee of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) sent the mine proposal up to a full panel review.

Rifkind is also concerned about the liability of mining companies for environmental control of day to day operations.

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