The Yukon Chamber of Mines is concerned about the Supreme Courts ruling last week that removed most of the peel watershed from exploration and development.
The top court ruled the Yukon government must consider a 2011 land use plan that would see 80 per cent of the watershed protected.
At one point mining and mineral exploration was the Yukon’s largest economy – now it’s real estate
The Yukon’s Chamber of Mines said they respect the Supreme Court’s judgement on the Peel Watershed land use plan process but has concerns about the withdrawal of lands available for staking in the territory.
Executive Director Samson Hartland said currently 17 per cent of the Yukon’s total land mass is off limits to mineral exploration and another 53 per cent is withdrawn from staking for various reasons like land set aside for national parks.
Hartland said making it less of an attractive place to explore and companies end up investing elsewhere.
“It puts us at the highest in the country for land set aside for mineral exploration so our concern is given this fact given that there are five more land use plans to go the trajectory that we’re on is very concerning for the investment community,” said Hartland.
Another concern being raised is what will happen with the thousands of mineral claims that have already been staked in the Peel watershed that covers more than 67,000 square kilometres in northeastern Yukon.
An area rich in minerals, gas and oil is also known for its untouched beauty.
Hartland said the question of whether or not claim owners will be compensated still needs to be answered
“The reality is the claims for expropriation of those mining operations are very real possibilities, of course, its early days but we’ll see where this all goes but expropriation is something that could land in the courts down the road,” he said.
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said those questions can be answered after consultations happen with First Nations.
“(The government) will have to work forward once we finished the consultation process once the final plan is finalized then we can answer the questions of what if’s “.
Silver said his government welcomes the court decision saying it gives the government and mining industry clarity in how to proceed with land use planning in the territory.