A former Yukon mining reality TV star has been fined more than $140,000 for failing to properly decommission his placer mining operation.
Last June, Kenneth Foy, 44, pled guilty to three charges under the Yukon’s Placer Mining Act and one charge under the Environment Act.
In a joint submission presented Thursday afternoon, Crown prosecutor Julie DesBrisay and defence lawyer Mike Reynolds agreed that a total of $145,000 in fines would be an appropriate sentence for the charges.
Judge Peter Chisholm approved the submission. He gave Foy one year to pay the amount, the maximum time permitted under the legislation.
Foy received the maximum fine, $20,000, for each of the Placer Mining Act charges.
The Environment Act charge, for which he was fined the remaining $85,000, carries a maximum fine of $300,000, six months in jail or both.
DesBrisay said fines should not be a licence fee for committing an offence, but show that it won’t be tolerated, and reflect community disapproval.
She noted it could cost the government hundreds of thousands of dollars for cleanup of the site, which may include testing and separating and disposal of hazardous materials,
Foy is a lifelong miner from Port Moody, B.C. who starred on the Canadian reality series Yukon Gold.
At sentencing, he gave an emotional statement to the court expressing his remorse and regret for the infractions.
Foy said he takes full responsibility for his actions and apologized to his family, miners and the Dawson community.
He said he was embarrassed by the “black eye” to the Yukon mining community that he has been part of for 26 years.
“I will demand more of myself if I decide to work in the industry again.”
While Foy had pled guilty early on and an agreed statement of facts was submitted on June 6, DesBrisay said there was a delay in sentencing due to “months of discussion and negotiation.”
Reynolds noted it was a “very collaborative and open and comfortable process” that his client was actively involved in.
Foy was originally facing six charges for contravening his Class 4 placer mining licence, along with the Environment Act charge and two charges under the Water Act. The additional charges were stayed by the Crown.
From the spring of 2012 to June 2014, Foy ran a mining operation on Moose Creek, approximately 125 km from Dawson along the Top of the World Highway.
It spanned 26 placer claims across an area 610 metres wide by four kilometres long.
Reynolds told the court that troubles began in 2013, when Foy took on an investor, but that mining season didn’t go well.
As a consequence, the investor seized equipment and told Foy there could be legal consequences if he returned to the mining site in 2014.
Foy complied, as he wasn’t sure of his legal rights at the time, but said he regrets not seeking legal counsel.
That fall, he discussed a reclamation plan with the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources with intentions of starting cleanup in 2015.
And he attempted some remediation at the general worksite, spending $30,000. But Foy was unaware that he needed a permit to do so, which led to infractions.
In July 2015, while Foy said he had completed the cleanup, a natural resource officer discovered that it was not in compliance with the established plan.
Piles of tailings had been left behind and disturbed areas were not left in a state conducive to re-vegetation.
DesBrisay noted that this could cause long-term soil erosion and sedimentation of the creek.
Two unusable vehicles and several structures were also abandoned at the site.
And a “bone yard” or waste disposal site was littered with discarded and partially-buried materials. including tires, pallets, scrap metal, 45-gallon drums, and scrap wood.
Foy was charged for the offences in 2016.
He had planned to return to the site this past summer to complete some remediation work, which would have been a mitigating factor in sentencing. But that didn’t happen.
Foy said after it become publicly known that he was facing charges, he had difficulty finding work, which made the reclamation work financially impossible.
“Mr. Foy really did want to return to the worksite this summer and do some reclamation work,” Reynolds told the court. “He’s extremely regretful that was just not in the cards.”