What would you like the Yukon government to spend $35.5 million on? Perhaps more nurses at the hospital? Some green power plants to fight climate change? Affordable housing? More front-line teachers?
Well, never mind. Judging from Yukon Zinc’s bankruptcy case, it looks like the government will be spending it cleaning up another abandoned mine. This case is particularly troubling. First, it’s recent. The mine opened in 2012. Unlike Faro, we can’t blame this one on 1960s-era mining techniques and long-dead mining executives and regulators.
Second, it’s on the Yukon’s tab. Devolution meant gaining authority over our own resources. It also meant that we would be on the hook for mining mishaps authorized by the Yukon government. The Yukon government is already going into deeper debt each fiscal year, and a $35.5 million hit will have to come out of the hide of other public programs.
Third, the mine’s ultimate owners have deep pockets and don’t seem to be contributing to the clean up. Yukon Zinc was acquired by new owners in 2008, with China’s Jinduicheng Molybdenum Group (JDC) playing a lead role. According to Yukon Zinc’s website, JDC “is located in China’s northwest Shaanxi province and is one of the largest molybdenum companies in the world, ranking first in Asia and third in the world.
JDC has the biggest open pit Molybdenum mine in Asia with a reserve life of more than a hundred years. JDC is a publicly traded state owned mining enterprise with strong support from both Chinese state and provincial governments.”
For the rest of this column: https://www.yukon-news.com/opinion/yukonomist-three-questions-on-yukon-zinc-and-china/