Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation

Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation

January 16, 2008 16:12 ET

First Nation demands Carmacks Copper Mine be halted

Controversial mining project threatens fragile Yukon River ecosystem and must be halted until serious engineering concerns are addressed, says Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor CARMACKS, YUKON, MEDIA ADVISORY--(Marketwire - Jan. 16, 2008) - The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board was told yesterday that it must stop the approval process for a controversial copper mine planned in the Traditional Territory of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation until the company proposing it addresses a number of serious environmental issues.

"We are not against mining, but we will not accept a mine on our Traditional Territory that threatens the very existence of our land and water," so says Eddie Skookum, Chief of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation located approximately 180 kilometers north of Whitehorse, YT.

Western Copper Corporation (TSX:WRN), a junior mining company based in Vancouver has proposed a mine in the Carmacks region that includes a heap leach pile built on the side of a mountain that will cover at least 31.5 hectares (79 acres), and is 90m (300 feet) high.

"They're treating this land like it's some Third World country," said an outraged Chief Skookum.

The mountainside heap will be filled with a toxic stew of chemicals including sulphuric acid, copper, cadmium, lead and selenium. "If their cheap collection dam breaks - and chances are that it will some day - we'll see an environmental disaster unlike any we've seen in Canada before," predicts the Chief. If this happens the heap and pond will drain into the nearby Yukon River which supplies First Nations people throughout the Yukon with salmon, and is a major tourist attraction.

The First Nation wants Western Copper Corporation to negotiate a better environmental engineering solution as part of an Impacts Benefits Agreement with the First Nation, the Chief said.

"This dispute will only get worse unless the company comes to the table and negotiates in a meaningful way. I wouldn't want to be an investor if things turn ugly," the Chief warned.

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BACKGROUND

- Western Copper Corporation (TSX:WRN), a junior mining company headquartered in Vancouver, B.C. wishes to build a large open pit copper mine entirely within the Traditional Territory of the Little salmon Carmacks First Nation(LSCFN). Carmacks is located 180kms North of Whitehorse.
- While the First Nation is supportive of mining, it is not supportive of this mine because in its current design state there are serious environmental shortcomings.
- The proposed open pit mine will use a massive heap of ore mixed with concentrated sulphuric acid and leached with dilute sulphuric acid to recover copper metal.
- The mine should create approximately $123 Million Dollars after tax profits for its owners during its 17 year start to finish life based on copper @ C 2.73 $/lb
- The mining company plans on starting construction this spring 2008.
- Traffic to and from the mine will pass through LSCFN Traditional Territory, including settlement land, heritage sites, fish camps, trap lines, LSCFN cemeteries and burial sites, special habitat protection area, and the largely First Nation Community of Carmacks.
- Following standard procedure across Canada, the LSCFN wishes to negotiate an Impact - - Benefits Agreement(IBA) with Western Copper Corporation that will address the environmental, social and economic impacts on the community.
- The First Nation is currently facing the prospect of negotiating an IBA while the bulldozers rip and push, something which isn't supposed to happen in this day and age the First Nations Council believes.
- TheLittle Salmon Carmacks First Nations comments on the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Boards Report can be found at: http://www.yesab.tzo.com/wfm/lamps/yesab/public/publicdetails.jsp;time=120037285561

The Issue:
- LSCFN wants western Copper to negotiate an Impact Benefits Agreement(IBA) in good faith. Such IBAs are standard practice in Canada for mining companies wanting to do business on First Nation Traditional Territory. Western Copper appears unwilling to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation.
- As part of the IBA, serious environmental issues need to be addressed before the LSCFN is prepared to accept this mine in its Traditional Territory, including:
- concerns about the engineering for the proposed heap leach pile which is 90m(300 feet) high and covers 31.5 hectares (79 acres), and will be filled with a poisonous mixture of sulphuric acid, copper, cadmium, lead and selenium - to name a few.
- concerns that the highly contaminated heap leach site is located on the side of a mountain which drains into the nearby Yukon River 16km away.
- some experts cite a 50% failure rate for these heap leach mines. These "side of the mountain" heap leach piles are usually found only in Third World countries.
- As part of the IBA, serious economic development issues need to be addressed before the community is prepared to accept this mine in its Traditional Territory, including:
- Local Businesses, especially the First Nation's economic development corporation, need to be involved in the building and operation of the mine. Millions of dollars will be spent developing and running the mine - some of that economic windfall should end up in the community whose lands contain the mine and whose lives will be greatly impacted by the mine.
- The First Nation is not looking for an economic handout, only for an opportunity to provide quality labour, goods and services at reasonable rates.

About the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation
- Located in Carmacks, Yukon, the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation is one of 14 Yukon First Nations.
- The Little Salmon Carmacks people are Northern Tutchone, part of the Athabaskan language group. They are a people who are very much reliant on the Yukon River and its rich salmon resources.
- The Northern Tutchone of the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun and the Selkirk First Nation are closely related. They are also close to the Southern Tutchone of nearby Champagne and Aishihik with whom they traded. A system of land and water routes connect all of these adjacent areas.
- The Little Salmon Carmacks First nation completed its land claims negotiations and signed a self government agreement in July 1997. The Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation is rich in renewable and non-renewable resources.
- The First Nation is committed to teaching its young people about traditional law and traditional knowledge and to developing employment opportunities that respect the old ways and values of life on the land. /For further information: Chief Eddy Skookum, 867-863-5576/ IN: ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCE, MINING, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Robert Moar, IBA Negotiator, Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation
    Primary Phone: 867-863-5576 ext. 262
    E-mail: robert.moar@lscfn.ca