by Greg Klein | July 8, 2015
British Columbia’s ministries of mines and the environment dealt another setback to Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) proposed Morrison mine on July 7. The central B.C. copper-gold-molybdenum project now has up to three years to complete further studies for its environmental assessment.
B.C. originally rejected the open pit operation in October 2012 despite an environmental assessment which repeatedly stated that, with successful implementation of mitigation measures and conditions, the mine is “not likely to have significant adverse effects.” The two provincial ministries, however, considered a “risk/benefit approach” that speculated what might happen if mitigation measures failed. The province also noted native opposition. It later transpired that draft recommendations from the Environmental Assessment Office’s executive director didn’t recommend rejection.
The company lawyered up and in December 2013 the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the province “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.” The court ordered B.C. to let Pacific Booker respond to the environmental decision. The company did, but now faces further requirements.
Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett cited a number of concerns including uncertainty about the mine’s design and mitigation measures, insufficient understanding of the Morrison Lake ecosystem and “whether there may be other design alternatives and/or mitigation measures that might support a higher level of confidence.”
The ministers detailed several studies to take place within three years, also ordering “further engagement with Lake Babine Nation and other first nations with respect to their perspectives and opinions about the mine and the potential effects on their aboriginal interests.”
But according to a July 8 Pacific Booker statement, the additional requirements include “many components which were required to be completed in support of the Mines Act/Environmental Management Act permits and [were] planned to be completed prior to applying for permits after receiving the environmental assessment certificate.”
Since June 2011, four B.C. mine proposals received EA certificates and six mines began production, stated a July 8 president/CEO’s message from Gavin Dirom of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia. He added that last month JDS Silver received construction permits for its Silvertip (formerly Midway) silver-lead-zinc mine near the Yukon border.