B.C. province faces lawsuit

Pacific Booker Minerals has filed a lawsuit against the province of B.C. regarding a Northern B.C. mining project.

Pacific Booker Minerals (PBM) has filed a lawsuit against the province of B.C. regarding a Northern B.C. mining project that did not receive an anticipated environmental assessment certificate at the conclusion of its application process.

The Morrison copper and gold mine was to have been located north of Granisle B.C. The mine project, which was projected to be begin in 2014, was expected to extract an estimated $6 billion in mineral resources and generate over $300 million in tax revenue and provincial mineral taxes over the life of the project, from construction to decommissioning.

In addition to provincial revenues, the construction phase of the mine would have meant 1117 jobs over two years, with 600 jobs per year expected to be provided over the 21-year lifespan of the mine.

Pacific Booker Minerals had agreed to meet 32 conditions set out by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) for approval of the project. The project had appeared to move successfully through the provincial environmental assessment process, with the final report being turned over to ministerial hands for consideration in late September, 2012.

A last minute denial of the anticipated approval on Oct. 1, 2012 took PBM and the mining industry by surprise. Despite a positive assessment by the EAO that the project had ‘adequately and reasonably’ dealt with all environmental, First Nations, and public concerns, environment minister Terry Clark’s office denied the application.

The company had spent more than $30 million on combined feasibility and environmental studies over ten years. Pacific Booker Minerals CEO, Erik Tornquist reported previously that there was a 50 per cent drop in stock value after the denial of the assessment, resulting in a loss of $140 million in investor equity for over 1100 shareholders.

According to Supreme Court of B.C. documents filed on April 3, 2013 by Hunter Litigation Chambers Law Corporation of Vancouver, PBM wants four things: that the Sept. 2012 decision to deny the EAC be set aside, that the provincial ministerial offices involved reconsider their decision, costs, and any further ‘relief’ that the court finds appropriate.

The documents also outline that PBM is a small company with only one  proposed project, the Morrison Mine project. Citing the successful completion of two recent environmental assessments for the Roman Coal Project and the Kitsault Mine Project, the suit alleges that the province unfairly held PBM to a different set of standards than those other projects.

The lawsuit also claims that the province, contrary to expectations, did not allow PBM the opportunity to respond to the reasoning behind the denial of the environmental certificate. It is PBM’s claim that a number of false assumptions and premises inconsistent with the original parameters of the environmental assessment process informed the final decision to shut down the project.

Lakes District News reported earlier that a flurry of last-minute correspondence between the Northern B.C. Skeena Fisheries Commission and the minister’s office may have set the stage for the final denial of the environmental assessment certificate. The law suit alleges that a misunderstanding of the proximity of the headwaters of the Skeena River watershed to the proposed mine location, informed the minister’s decision to deny the environmental certificate.