Ross River Dena Council seeks judicial review of mining project

The Ross River Dena Council (RRDC), on its own behalf and on behalf of the Kaska Nation, filed an application in Federal Court for judicial review of a decision regarding a major mining project. The case was filed on July 15.

By Whitehorse Star on July 26, 2022

The Ross River Dena Council (RRDC), on its own behalf and on behalf of the Kaska Nation, filed an application in Federal Court for judicial review of a decision regarding a major mining project. The case was filed on July 15.

The June 15 decision was made by the Yukon government, Natural Resources Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

It allows the Kudz Ze Kayah project proposed by BMC Minerals Ltd. to proceed in Kaska territory, subject only to regulatory clearances.

The Kudz Ze Kayah property is located 115 kilometers southeast of Ross River.

The RRDC issued a press release last Sunday outlining its objections to the proposal.

The Kudz Ze Kayah project involves the construction and operation of a large industrial copper, lead and zinc mine, involving intrusive surface and underground mining methods in the Lake Finlayson area, the statement said. hurry.

The project is proposed in the heart of the Ross River region of Kaska Territory, over which the Kaska Nation has held and exercised constitutionally protected Aboriginal title, rights and interests since time immemorial, according to the release notes.

The Project is also located in important habitat for the Finlayson caribou herd, in a critical area actively used by these caribou for rutting and for movement to access calving grounds.

The herd’s population has been declining for several years, largely due to the cumulative effects of industrial development in the area, including past mining projects near the Kudz Ze Kayah project.

“The Finlayson caribou herd is of particular importance to the Kaska Nation, particularly with respect to the exercise of their constitutionally protected Aboriginal title and rights,” the statement said.

Chief Dylan Loblaw notes the following regarding the critical importance of this area to his community and the Kaska Nation.

“Not only is the project proposed as a place of refuge for the Finlayson caribou herd, but this area also contains sacred burial grounds and a historic caribou fence built by our nation to manage and support the herd in accordance with our practices. traditional,” says Loblaw.

“These sacred sites are of the utmost importance to protect and respect the future of our culture, our children and the biodiversity that thrives in Gudzi Kayah!

“Federal and territorial decision makers have allowed this project to proceed without the consent of the Kaska with their decision, and with meaningful consultation with our Nation still ongoing, which will devastate Finlayson’s caribou herd, and our Kaska inherent rights to manage this vulnerable caribou population. – the cumulative effects will ultimately be too great to handle,” the chef added.

BMC Minerals expects a mine life of 10 years, after two years of construction.

The company plans to process two million tonnes of ore per year, producing 7.8 million ounces of silver each year as well as 180,000 tonnes of zinc, 60,000 tonnes of copper and 35,000 tonnes of lead.

BMC expects to have a workforce of approximately 300 people when the mine is in operation and between 350 and 400 during construction.

He estimated it would cost $376 million to bring the mine into production.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board recommended that the project be authorized, and the Yukon and federal governments agreed.

Governments do not comment in the media on cases brought before the courts.

RRDC’s application for judicial review alleges multiple breaches by Yukon and Canada of the Crown’s constitutional duty to consult the Kaska Nation before making a decision authorizing the Kudz Ze Kayah project.

“The RRDC filed the application on behalf of the Kaska Nation as a whole and is encouraged by the support and solidarity of the Kaska Nation to unite to protect Kaska rights and title from irreparable harm caused by the Project. Kudz Ze Kayah,” the statement read. said.