Learn about mining projects and Yukon First Nations

  • About Yukon First Nations
  • Traditional Territory and Settlement Land
  • Mineral rights on Settlement Land
  • First Nation participation and consultation
  1. About Yukon First Nations

    Yukon First Nations are an important partner in the governance of the territory. First Nations’ traditional territories cover almost all the land in Yukon. Of the 14 First Nations in Yukon, 11 signed modern treaties between 1993 and 2005. These First Nations make laws and decisions on their Settlement Land.

    Yukon’s modern treaties include a Final Agreement and Self-Government Agreement. The Final Agreements include chapters on:

    • access;
    • management of settlement land; and
    • non-renewable resources.

    Learn more about Yukon First Nations.

    Learn more about Final Agreements and Self-Government Agreements.

  2. Traditional Territory and Settlement Land

    Yukon’s modern treaties establish Traditional Territory and Settlement Land.

    Traditional Territory

    First Nations do not own their Traditional Territory, but they have a high level of input and involvement in the management of these lands. Many of the First Nations’ rights and benefits exist throughout their entire Traditional Territory. Some examples include:

    • hunting;
    • fishing;
    • economic development; and
    • the co-management of parks and cultural artifacts.

    Settlement Land

    First Nations with a Final Agreement and Self-Government Agreement own and manage their Settlement Land.

    There are 3 types of Settlement Land.

    Category A Settlement Land

    On Category A Settlement Land, a Yukon First Nation owns the surface and subsurface rights. This includes the mineral rights. For new mineral rights, the First Nation governs all:

    • staking;
    • exploration; and
    • mining activity.

    We still govern claims and associated mineral rights that existed before the Settlement Land was created.

    Category B Settlement Land

    On Category B Settlement Land a Yukon First Nation owns only the surface rights. The Government of Yukon governs:

    • new and existing staking;
    • exploration; and
    • mining activity.

    You may still need additional authorizations from the Yukon First Nation.

    Fee simple Settlement Land

    On fee simple Settlement Land, a Yukon First Nation has the same property rights as owners of other private property registered in the Land Titles Office. This land has been withdrawn from mineral staking.

    Learn more about Settlement Land and Traditional Territories.

  3. Mineral rights on Settlement Land

    Acquiring mineral rights on Settlement Land

    If you wish to acquire mineral rights on Category A Settlement Land, contact the First Nation government.

    On some Category B Settlement Land, you can stake a claim as you would on public land where staking is permitted. Prior to staking:

    If you stake a claim on First Nation Category B Settlement Land, you must provide financial security to the mining recorder.

    We encourage you to engage early with the First Nation whose Traditional Territory overlaps your project. Ongoing engagement will help you understand the community’s:

    • values;
    • challenges; and
    • requirements to protect their way of life.

    Accessing your mineral rights on Settlement Land

    If you hold a mineral right on Settlement Land that was granted before the effective date of the First Nation's Final Agreement, you can still access the land to work or extract minerals.

    To access and work your claim on Category B or fee simple Settlement Land, you may have to pay security to the district Mining Recorder. Contact your local Mining Recorder’s office to learn more.

    Before you start work on your claim, you must acquire the relevant permits and licences.

    Working your mineral rights on Settlement Land

    To conduct Class 1 activities on claims and prospecting leases you must submit a notification to us for review. Before you start your activities, we will consult with the affected First Nation on the potential environmental and socioeconomic effects on Aboriginal and treaty rights. As a result of the consultation, we may apply additional terms and conditions to your notification to help mitigate any potential impacts from your project,

    If your project exceeds the thresholds for Class 1 activities, you'll need an assessment under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act before any authorizations can be issued. The First Nation, along with Government of Yukon, will be decision bodies in the process. They'll decide whether the work can go ahead. You may also need further permits from the:

    • First Nation;
    • Government of Yukon; or
    • Yukon Water Board.

    Determine the class of your placer mining operation.

    Determine the class of your quartz mining exploration program.

  4. First Nation participation and consultation

    In many cases, First Nation support is critical to the success of a mining project. First Nations are more likely to support mining projects if they understand your project and see benefits for the local community.

    Key considerations for consultations with First Nations

    When researching and developing a project proposal for exploration or licensing applications, your company should:

    • identify nearby communities and affected First Nations;
    • identify key contact people in those communities and First Nations, such as:
      • the Chief(s) and councillors of the First Nations government(s);
      • the Mayor and councillors of the local municipality; and
      • lands officers and other administrative staff who may be involved in reviewing your proposal;
    • identify issues and concerns of importance to the communities;
    • communicate to the community the company’s short- and long-term plans;
    • be aware of local cultural differences and communication styles; and
    • initiate meetings to exchange information between the company president and the Chief, director of lands and resources or other senior official(s).

    Learn more about engaging with First Nations at the Yukon Chamber of Mines.