(Whitehorse) Today in the Yukon Legislature, opposition member Jim Trudger will submit a petition from residents of Keno City asking for assistance with relocation and compensation for residences and businesses impacted by Alexco Resources rapidly expanding mining operations. The petition includes a long list of concerns related to how the mining projects have “fundamentally changed the nature of Keno City.”
The residents’ concerns include
- Reduced marketability of Keno as a tourist destination and reduced livability for residents;
- A 10-fold increase in traffic;
- Exposure of residents and visitors to dust and fine particulate matter;
- Risks to the town’s sole water source;
- Numerous complaints from campers at the town-owned public campground;
- Closure of two small tourism businesses; and
- Fears that they will not be able to sell their homes.
Residents are disappointed and frustrated that neither the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) nor the Yukon Government’s recent Health Impact Assessment have adequately addressed or even recognized their concerns. YESAB has not assessed the full scope of mining activities as various projects have been approved incrementally. The YESAB report identified risks to the town’s tourism sector but determined these were not “significant”.
The health impact assessment (HIA) relies largely on previously collected mining company data. It fails to take into consideration important gaps identified by residents, including that the fact that the most potentially contaminated surface site near residences was left out of past studies. The HIA assumes that proposed environmental monitoring by the mining company will be sufficient to alleviate any issues with water quality and dust, and fails to address adverse socio-economic effects on health and well being.
The residents of Keno who have filed the petition support responsible mining, but a district mill and dry-stack tailings facility a few hundred metres from homes, haul roads surrounding the town, and multiple mining and exploration operations are too much for them and their businesses to endure. They want out and feel that if this is how the Yukon Government plans to promote and permit mining, they should be compensated for their lost investments and assisted with relocating elsewhere.
“We marketed Keno as a quiet, tranquil community with many recreational opportunities, and for over 10 years we successfully drew tourists from all over the world. The new mining activities have turned a once quiet community into a highly industrialized site and our businesses became unfeasible.” Insa Schultenkotter, past owner and operator of Keno Cabins.
“The return of mining to our area has put a mill and tailings piles in Keno, surrounded our community with ore haul roads, permitted a new mine portal mere metres from our homes, and another new mine coming soon. Tourism businesses have closed, complaints pile up from visitors who have had their stay here ruined, long term residents are leaving the community, and in most cases, leaving the Yukon entirely. ” Jim Miley, owner and operator of the Sourdough Café.
“The situation in Keno represents a serious failure of planning for responsible mineral development in the Yukon. The lack of a serious social impact study and over-ruling of residents’ concerns by the Yukon Government should be an alarm call to every Yukoner.” Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada.
Jim Miley, Owner/Operator Sourdough Café (867) 995-3282, sourdough(at)northwestel.net
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada (613) 569-3439, ramsey(at)miningwatch.ca