Lake Babine Nation (LBN) formally advised Pacific Booker Minerals on Feb. 16, 2016, that it categorically rejects the company’s continued attempts to obtain approval for its Morrison Copper/Gold Mine project.
Lake Babine Nation chief and council urged the mine proponent to “stop wasting LBN, taxpayers, and investors’ money pursuing this fundamentally flawed project.”
The proposed Morrison Mine is adjacent to Morrison Lake, which lies within LBN territory 65 km northeast of Smithers. Morrison Lake is home to a genetically distinct population of sockeye that are critically important to LBN.
“This open-pit mine would be built in the heart of Lake Babine Nation’s territory, in a watershed that supports the mighty Skeena River sockeye,” explained Chief Adam. “It would sit less than 100 metres from salmon-rich Morrison Lake and discharge treated mine effluent into the lake.”
In September 2012, former environment minister Terry Lake and former energy, mines and natural gas minister Rich Coleman refused to issue an environmental assessment certificate to the Morrison Mine project.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the government’s environmental assessment of the project found the mine could affect sockeye salmon populations as well as water quality in the lake, and that the long-term environmental risks of the mine outweighed the potential benefits to the province.
However, in December 2013, Pacific Booker Minerals won a court case forcing the province to re-reconsider the proposed mine.
In July 2015, the province completed this court-ordered reconsideration and ordered that the Morrison Mine undergo further environmental assessment, which includes further consultation with First Nations. Chief Adam says Pacific Booker Minerals has made no improvements to the proposed project since it was rejected by the provincial government in 2012.
“There is no way this mine can be built, as it is clear that it violates our Aboriginal title and rights, which, as stated in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision, includes the right to protect our lands and waters for future generations,” said Chief Adam.
“Protecting our Aboriginal title lands and our natural resources from Morrison Mine is one of my nation’s highest priorities,” he added. “This mine will not happen.”
The proposed $517-million project is a conventional open-pit mine with an extraction rate of approximately 30,000 tonnes per day. If approved, the project is expected to bring in close to $900 million in tax revenues over its 21-year life span.
The next step in the process is for Pacific Booker Minerals to prepare a document called ‘supplemental application information requirements’ (SAIR), which includes further engagement with First Nations.
Once received, the document will be reviewed by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), which will determine if the document has provided a reasonable response to the SAIR requirements. The EAO will then convene a working group comprised of provincial and federal agencies, local governments and First Nations to review the document.