Response to the recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling to quash the Oct. 1, 2012 denial of an environmental assessment certificate to Pacific Booker Minerals (PBM) proposed Morrison Mine project north of Granisle has been muted.
The B.C. Ministry of Environment is not prepared to make a statement on the ruling’s implications.
A spokesperson for the ministry said, “This is a complicated matter and we are reviewing the ruling so we can understand all aspects of it. We will not be in a position to comment on the ruling or our next steps until we have completed our review and had a chance to speak with our legal counsel.”
The ruling, which also awarded costs to PBM for the lawsuit, lent a note of optimism to PBM’s position. The junior mining company not only spent approximately $10 million on the environmental assessment process, but lost approximately $140 million in stock value immediately upon its failure to receive environmental approval.
Pacific Booker Minerals lawsuit was based on the fact that the final environment assessment report to ministry officials was positive in that it concluded no adverse environmental effects would follow from the project, provided many stipulations were met.
The positive recommendation of the report was ignored in favour of other concerns outlined when the minister’s office rejected the application.
Despite the province’s refusal to comment on the matter until it has had time to review the ruling in detail, PBM has been quick to interpret the ruling as a victory in the project’s favour, and to compare its application to the controversial Prosperity Mine project near Williams Lake.
Prosperity Mine has twice received a negative environmental assessment, stating the project would have adverse effects on important environmental considerations.
Yet in the case of that project, PBM director Erik Tornquist said, “The current minister of energy and mines, the honourable Bill Bennett, was reported last month as saying he hopes the federal government will reverse its previous rejection of the proposed… mine.”
On the face of it, it appears the Supreme Court ruling will force the ministry to reconsider PBM’s application. Furthermore, according to Tornquist, it means PBM will have the opportunity to respond to ministerial concerns, should they arise, before a final decision is made.
“The court ordered that the minister’s decision be quashed and set aside, and ordered that the company’s application for an environmental certificate be remitted to the current ministers for reconsideration,” Tornquist said.
“This time, the company and interveners will be entitled to be provided with a copy of the recommendations, if any, sent to the ministers and will be entitled to provide written response to the recommendations in advance of a further decision.”
Lake Babine Nation (LBN) Chief Wilf Adam hopes the province will reaffirm its rejection of the project.
“I’m disappointed in the [court’s] decision, mainly because the decision made by the province in the first place was the proper decision,” Adam said. “I hope the province says we made the right decision and we’re going to stick with it.”
Lake Babine Nation is very concerned by the effect of proposed tailings ponds near Morrison Lake, and the effect they could have on LBN’s sustenance and commercial salmon fisheries.