Wednesday 30th September 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Taranis Resources Inc (TRO)’

Taranis Resources CEO John Gardiner comments on resolution of a regulatory dispute

August 31st, 2020

…Read more

A resource-less approach

August 21st, 2020

Attacks persist, but Canada has nothing to replace the economy it denigrates

by Greg Klein | August 21, 2020

“Very disheartened,” the Mining Association of Canada expressed more than usual frustration as another resource project faced another unexpected setback. This one caused special pain since it resulted from Bill C-69, which the industry group had controversially supported. MAC did so thinking the bill would fix problems associated with the federal environmental act of 2012. But the association had also supported Ottawa back then, before becoming disillusioned with the legislation’s implementation. Could there be a pattern here?

MAC expressed its most recent discouragement on August 20 after federal environment minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced Teck Resources’ (TSX:TECK.A/TSX:TECK.B) Castle coal proposal would face a federal review under the Impact Assessment Act in addition to the provincial review already underway.

Attacks persist, but Canada has nothing to replace the economy it denigrates

Teck’s Fording River operation: Does a supposedly green economy
have no room for steel-making coal? (Photo: Teck Resources)

As a new source of metallurgical coal just south of Teck’s Fording River mine in southeastern British Columbia, Castle would add “several decades” of life to the currently depleting operation, the company maintains. Teck hoped to begin Castle development in 2023 and production in 2026, to replace the existing operation early next decade.

Yet the size of the proposal calls for an environmental review at the provincial level only, Teck and MAC say, arguing that federal IAA intervention isn’t necessary.

“It seems clear that this decision was political in nature as there are many projects across the country with equal or more significant impacts that are not subject to the IAA,” MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton asserted. “This is a case of the government succumbing to pressure from political interest groups while also placating the U.S. government’s EPA and the state of Montana.”

Yet Canada’s new regimen was supposed to end much of the federal-provincial review duplication, which helped explain MAC’s support for C-69 last year even after Parliament rejected most of the Senate’s proposed amendments. Over objections from the oilpatch and some uranium companies, MAC declared the new legislation an improvement over the former Tory government’s 2012 Environmental Assessment Act.

MAC had supported the 2012 transformation too. But later the group decided it did not “live up to its promise,” Gratton told CBC last year.

In making this decision, the federal government is sending a clear message that instead of providing support for resource projects and jobs in a time of unprecedented economic crisis, it will choose to do the opposite. —The Mining Association
of Canada

On August 20 he stated MAC’s support for the new IAA had been “contingent on it being implemented well. It is unfortunate that the past month has now given our industry reason to question whether it will be implemented in a fair and efficient manner.”

Weeks earlier, MAC noted, Ottawa released its new Strategic Assessment on Climate Change, “which included numerous requirements that are unworkable for the mining sector and is calling into question whether the act will be well and fairly implemented.”

Implementation aside, the IAA is hardly free of inherent faults. A February 2019 commentary by Grant Bishop and Grant Sprague of the C.D. Howe Institute warned that C-69 threatened projects by “congesting the assessment process with wider public policy concerns and exacerbating the political uncertainty facing proponents with a highly subjective ‘public interest’ standard.” That allowed for “increasing subjectivity and politicization in project approvals,” the authors contended.

Additionally, they said the new bill failed to clarify the duty to consult natives.

C-69 passed at the same time as Bill C-48, aka the “tanker moratorium,” and shortly after a ban on offshore Arctic drilling.

Problems are obvious at the provincial level too. One early sign of a growing trend was B.C.’s 2012 rejection of Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum proposal despite an environmental assessment that found the project was “not likely to have significant adverse effects.” In the legislature last spring MLA Andrew Weaver, B.C.’s former Green leader, suggested the previous BC Liberal government rejected Morrison as a trade-off to gain native support for a gas transmission line to the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG plant.

The BC Liberal government did, however, support Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity proposal. Ottawa scrapped that one, partly by expanding its environmental mandate to include spiritual and cultural issues.

B.C.’s current NDP government, meanwhile, has come under fire from Taranis Resources TSXV:TRO for a process that it said involved 28 government reviewers, “multiple catastrophic deficiencies and concerns” and “moving goalposts.” These are, of course, just a few examples of ongoing frustration that characterizes resource and infrastructure development across Canada.

Most vexing is the duty to consult. Does that create a veto? Not according to Gratton, who has previously insisted: “We’re not in a world of veto. We’re in a world of deep and meaningful engagement.”

But that deep and meaningful stuff can work in reverse too. When the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended federal rejection of an expansion proposal for Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River operation in 2018, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association convinced Ottawa to approve the company’s request.

The Wet’suwet’en pipeline protests, moreover, appear to show some natives trying to veto others. The cause was taken up by Canada’s wider protest culture following its mass adulation for a Swedish teenager in demonstrations that at least hinted at religious fervour. The anti-pipeline movement quickly morphed into Shut Down Canada, an effort that showed signs of succeeding until quelled by the pandemic. Yet widespread demonstrating resumed with an American issue imported to this country awkwardly but with immediate and uniform support from Canadian media, political and business elites.

Will that support follow when protesters channel their emotions en masse back to environmental issues? Certainly much of the political and media establishment already grant credibility to seriously disruptive tactics that, for example, block people’s freedom of movement.

It’s in this milieu that the prime minister is speculated to be preparing an unprecedented social spending program that would dwarf previous deficit budgets.

Gold bugs might believe the outcome will vindicate their predictions for fiat currency. They might also feel vindicated by this week’s investment of US$560 million in Barrick Gold TSX:ABX by Berkshire Hathaway, whose legendary CEO Warren Buffett was previously known to disparage gold.

One of the world’s largest gold producers and nominally a Canadian company, Barrick has just one mine and no exploration or development projects in this country. For its part, Berkshire Hathaway expressed its opinion of Canada in early March when the company cancelled its planned $4-billion investment in GNL Québec. A spokesperson for the LNG proponent cited investor nervousness about the “current Canadian political context” demonstrated by rail blockades.

If Canada’s abandoning its resource economy, the replacement remains uncertain. That might be a situation better understood by investors than policy-makers, but it carries implications much wider than stock prices.

Taranis Resources gets B.C. Ombudsperson intervention in regulatory dispute; B.C. plans Mines Act revisions

July 2nd, 2020

by Greg Klein | July 2, 2020

In what might be a unique approach to regulatory uncertainty, a would-be British Columbia miner says it has “helped set the trend towards more transparent, accessible and fair proceedings for bulk-sampling projects.” Exasperated by its dealings with the provincial mines ministry, Taranis Resources TSXV:TRO went to the province’s Ombudsperson. As a result, the company and the ministry have agreed to procedures and a timeline for the company’s permitting application.

Taranis Resources gets B.C. Ombudsperson intervention in regulatory dispute; B.C. plans Mines Act revisions

Taranis has sunk about 250 holes at Thor
since acquiring the Kootenay property in 2006.
(Photo: Taranis Resources)

Taranis proposes to conduct a 10,000-tonne sample as part of the feasibility studies for the Thor project in southeastern B.C. The 3,172-hectare property hosts five historic mines and a potential silver-gold-lead-zinc-copper open pit.

Last March the company castigated B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, charging that a supposedly 60-day review had dragged on since September 2019, involving 28 government reviewers, “multiple catastrophic deficiencies and concerns,” and “moving goalposts.”

But on July 2 CEO John Gardiner thanked the ministry and the Ombudsperson “for formulating a number of positive measures that pertain not only to Taranis, but to B.C.’s exploration and mining sector as a whole.”

The resolution calls for draft engineering drawings of a water management plan and tailings storage facility to be completed with ministry collaboration within three to four weeks before being sent to the province’s Mine Development Review Committee for comments.

“Taranis expects the permit recommendation to be sent from EMPR to the statutory decision maker this year,” the company stated. “EMPR will try to complete this work by August 31, 2020, in order to mitigate further delay.”

We wish to thank the Ombudsperson’s office and EMPR … for formulating a number of positive measures that pertain not only to Taranis, but to B.C.’s exploration and mining sector as a whole.—John Gardiner,
Taranis Resources CEO

Taranis also stated that the ministry committed to completing and posting online a draft policy and information bulletin entitled Permitting Custom and Pilot Mill Operations, and a fact sheet for bulk sampling.

The province has been blamed for “moving the goalposts” on another mining proposal, and in this case the criticism came from a Supreme Court judge. But although the court ordered the government in 2013 to reconsider Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) application to build the Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine, the company still faces regulatory uncertainty. Late last month independent MLA and former Green leader Andrew Weaver accused the government of imposing conditions too vague for compliance. “For Pacific Booker, this order has been tantamount to a rejection of its project without the ministry formally saying no,” he charged.

Also last month B.C.’s New Democrat government announced proposed updates to the province’s Mines Act. Among the changes would be the separation of health and safety enforcement from responsibility for permitting decisions.

A newly created chief auditor’s staff would inspect mines and issue orders to rectify dangers to people, property or the environment.

Mine inspectors would gain stronger powers to stop work until remedial environmental protection takes place, and broader authority to conduct inspections. Inspections could include “indigenous accompaniment.”

Does B.C. use regulatory uncertainty as a political ploy? Former Green leader cites Pacific Booker

June 25th, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 25, 2020

Regulatory limbo might have been deliberately imposed on a British Columbia mining proponent for political reasons. That’s a concern raised by MLA Andrew Weaver as he once again questioned the provincial government’s handling of Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) proposed Morrison mine.

Does B.C. use regulatory uncertainty as a political ploy? Former Green leader cites Pacific Booker

Independent MLA Andrew Weaver

New environmental regulations introduced in 2018 don’t apply to the project, the New Democrat government states. But the former rules have been applied without clarity, Weaver argued. Addressing the legislature on June 24 the former Green leader, now an independent MLA, charged the government with stalling the project’s environmental assessment by confusing the process.

Acknowledging there’s “no smoking gun,” Weaver’s blog cited “suspicious circumstantial evidence” that the former BC Liberal government rejected the mine to gain native support for LNG projects. That government turned down the copper-gold-molybdenum proposal in 2012 although the province’s Environmental Assessment Office found that, with successful mitigation measures, the mine is “not likely to have significant adverse effects.”

Weaver’s post continued, “This is the same government that went to Ottawa in 2014 to lobby the federal government to approve [Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity proposal], a project that had received two negative assessments by federal review panels.”

At the time mines minister Bill Bennett refused to explain the apparent contradiction.

Pacific Booker lawyered up in 2012, resulting in a 2013 B.C. Supreme Court decision ordering the province to reconsider Morrison. As Weaver noted, “Justice [Kenneth] Affleck would describe the environmental assessment process as a ‘sham’ and accuse the province of repeatedly ‘moving the goalposts’ during the assessment process.”

But in 2015 the Liberals ordered the project to undergo further assessment. Weaver’s blog pointed out the Lake Babine Nation’s uncertain support for LNG projects including the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission line. Referring to the pipeline in 2016, Weaver wrote, “Chief Wilf Adam was quoted in Business in Vancouver as saying: ‘If they overturn or change their decision in favour of PBM to start this mine, then all gloves are off—and any agreement we made with the province.”

For Pacific Booker, this order has been tantamount to a rejection of its project without the ministry formally saying no.—MLA Andrew Weaver

The NDP narrowly won the 2017 election, governing with the support of three Green MLAs. A new Environmental Assessment Act passed in 2018, but doesn’t apply to Morrison. The Liberal government’s section 17 order imposed in 2015 remains in force. But “Pacific Booker has been unable to clarify the precise nature of what is actually required in the section 17 order,” Weaver told the legislature. “For Pacific Booker, this order has been tantamount to a rejection of its project without the ministry formally saying no.”

Weaver asked environment minister George Heyman to amend and clarify the 2015 requirements. Weaver added that it’s impossible for the company to move through the regulatory process “when that process has not been defined.”

Heyman denied Weaver’s charges, saying the requirements have been specific and his staff “are working to help answer any questions that the proponent has with respect to the information required.”

Weaver quit the Greens in January after announcing his intention to leave politics for family reasons. A mathematician, climate scientist and University of Victoria professor who shared in a 2007 Nobel Prize, he accused his former party colleagues last month of preferring re-election to upholding Green principles.

Last March Taranis Resources TSXV:TRO lambasted B.C.’s current environmental review process, saying the Thor polymetallic project was stalled as the company dealt with “28 technical reviewers from four sectors” over a 17-month period.

Taranis directors argued that “it is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation, with a complement of inexperienced and unqualified civil servants in positions of authority whose obvious intention is nothing less than making sure nothing gets done.”

July 2, 2020, update: Taranis Resources gets B.C. Ombudsperson intervention in regulatory dispute; B.C. plans Mines Act revisions.

Taranis Resources directors sound off on British Columbia’s permitting process

May 4th, 2020

…Read more

Taranis Resources alleges “catastrophic deficiencies and concerns” with B.C. mines ministry

March 16th, 2020

by Greg Klein | March 16, 2020

Stating it’s “in a unique position to experience every aspect of the permitting process in B.C.,” an explorer levelled strong complaints about how a bulk sampling application has been handled. Taranis Resources TSXV:TRO, operator of the Thor polymetallic project in southeastern British Columbia, made the charges in a March 16 news release following a conference call with ministry officials.

Taranis Resources alleges catastrophic deficiencies and concerns with B.C. mines ministry

Taranis received its most recent drill permit last January, after
filing an application in March 2019. (Photo: Taranis Resources)

In October 2018 the company applied for permission to conduct a 10,000-kilogram sample. The program would supply material for metallurgical tests as part of Thor’s PEA studies and also remove environmentally harmful stockpiles resulting from historic mining, Taranis states. Since then, the company maintains, it has dealt with “28 technical reviewers from four sectors” over a 17-month period.

Responding in 2018, the government applied requirements previously used only for large-scale commercial mining but which were to be adapted to the bulk mining proposal, the company states. Taranis says it agreed, but a technical review that should have taken 60 days has dragged on since September 2019.

Input from 28 technical reviewers led to modifications of site layouts, water treatment and other aspects of the original proposal, Taranis avers, but the process also featured “multiple catastrophic deficiencies and concerns,” as well as “moving goalposts.”

The latter consisted of a demand that engineering drawings be stamped “final” instead of “draft,” undermining “the spirit of technical review.” The company called for assurance that “‘final’ site-engineering plans aren’t modified multiple times based on whims of improperly managed technical reviewers.”

During a March 12 conference call between the company and ministry officials, Taranis states, deputy chief mines inspector Lowell Constable attributed Mount Polley to the decision to apply large-scale commercial mining standards to the bulk sample application.

In a 2014 tailings dam failure at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold operation, some eight million cubic metres of waste poured into the waterways of B.C.’s Cariboo region.

According to Taranis, Constable said that “there are no minor tailings facilities anymore in the code. So big or small, I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of pieces still moving around in the tailings management code.”

The company argues that “it is unreasonable that full-scale commercial mine permitting scope and associated costs be applied carte blanche to any and all test production scenarios.”

While the company believed conditional permitting would be a “cornerstone” of its application, Taranis quoted mines ministry executive regional director Heather Cullen as saying, “We are getting away from issuing conditional permits—conditional permits are not the way we are going.…”

It is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation…—Taranis Resources
board of directors

Taranis maintains that the conference call demonstrated that “there are no clear, concise, reasonable permitting allowances for exploration bulk sampling in B.C.—an essential exploration tool to the mining business. Up until 2018, there was a well-defined permitting process for exploration bulk sampling.”

The company’s board of directors states: “Based on our experience, it is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation, with a complement of inexperienced and unqualified civil servants in positions of authority whose obvious intention is nothing less than making sure nothing gets done.”

A week before the conference call, independent MLA and former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver criticized the New Democratic government for prolonging “regulatory inconsistencies” regarding Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine. After the initial rejection by B.C.’s previous Liberal government in 2012, the provincial Supreme Court found the decision “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.” Ordered to reassess the proposal, the NDP government “once again rejected the project in order to undergo further assessment,” Weaver argued. “However, in its order, the government appeared to issue unclear directions that substantially delay the process.”

Thor’s 2013 maiden resource gave the project open pit and underground resources totalling:

  • indicated: 640,000 tonnes averaging 0.88 g/t gold, 187 g/t silver, 0.14% copper, 2.51% lead and 3.51% zinc

  • inferred: 424,000 tonnes averaging 0.98 g/t gold, 176 g/t silver, 0.14% copper, 2.26% lead and 3.2% zinc

The property includes five zones that began mining in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

July 2, 2020, update: Taranis Resources gets B.C. Ombudsperson intervention in regulatory dispute; B.C. plans Mines Act revisions.