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Pacific Booker wins court case—B.C. ministers must reconsider Morrison mine rejection

by Greg Klein | December 9, 2013

The British Columbia Supreme Court has quashed a B.C. government decision to reject Pacific Booker Minerals’ TSXV:BKM proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine. Late December 9 the company reported that a 55-page court judgement released that afternoon stated the October 2012 decision by B.C.’s then-ministers of mines and environment “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.”

The ministers’ decision followed a favourable environmental review which repeatedly stated that, with successful implementation of mitigation measures and conditions, the mine is “not likely to have significant adverse effects.” The government, however, based its rationale on a “risk/benefit approach” that wasn’t a requirement of the environmental review and speculated what might happen if the mitigation measures failed. In his advice to the cabinet minsters, the Environmental Assessment Office executive director also emphasized strong native opposition and a “moderate to strong prima facie case for aboriginal title.”

The ministers’ decision refusing to issue the certificate failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.—B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck, as reported by Pacific Booker Minerals

At the time Pacific Booker director Erik Tornquist told, “We’re at a loss on how you can have a project with no significant environmental effects yet a certificate is denied.”

In a September 2012 statement by Gavin Dirom, the president/CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. said the rejection “does not appear to represent a science-based decision-making process that was transparent, logical or clear. Going forward, for the sake of due process and in the spirit of not losing the opportunity to develop this copper-gold deposit, we are hopeful that the company, first nations, B.C. government and federal government can work together to resolve this matter in a timely and reasonable manner.”

Speaking to late afternoon December 9, Pacific Booker executive director John Plourde called the court ruling “very encouraging.” He emphasized that the company doesn’t have to go through another environmental review. But he declined to say more until the company had time to further study the court decision.

“I don’t have enough information yet,” he said. “We just put this out because we have to put out a news release by law.” He added that the documents will be posted on the company’s website soon.

As reported in Pacific Booker’s news release, Justice Kenneth Affleck wrote:

“The petitioner is entitled to a declaration that the executive director’s referral of the application for a certificate to the ministers and the ministers’ decision refusing to issue the certificate failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness. There will be an order in the nature of certiorari quashing and setting aside the ministers’ decision and an order remitting the petitioner’s application for a certificate to the ministers for reconsideration. The petitioner is entitled to costs.”

A new mines minister, Bill Bennett, was named in B.C.’s last round of cabinet appointments. Terry Lake, the environmental minister who took part in the decision to reject the Morrison proposal, remains in the same post.

Read more about Pacific Booker and the B.C. government decision.

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