B.C. refuses to give environmental approval to gold and copper mine
British Columbia's Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas have denied an environmental assessment certificate to a copper and gold mine near Smithers in northwest B.C. Smithers is located about halfway between...
British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas have denied an environmental assessment certificate to a copper and gold mine near Smithers in northwest B.C. Smithers is located about halfway between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
According to CBC reports, this is only the second time that the province has refused a mine application.
Pacific Booker Minerals had proposed building the mine directly next to Morrison Lake. The lake is the headwaters of the Skeena River, which is the second largest producer of sockeye salmon in B.C. The environmental assessment office decided that the mine had the potential to harm the salmon population in the river.
According to the province’s statement: “The potential for long-term liability for the province and risk to the environment were not acceptable in this case.”
The province also noted that there was not enough data on the impact of the mining operations on the lake’s water quality in the long term.
Pacific Booker’s plan was to extract 30,000 tonnes of ore per day for 21 years, using an open pit mine and conventional truck and shovel technology. The plans included a full roster of facilities, including a processing plant, explosives storage, a tailing storage facility and a water treatment plant. The company has not named any consulting engineer involved.
The CBC said that B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said that one of the factors that took them “out of their comfort zone,” was a 5-square kilometre lining for the mine tailings pond. Lake also said that First Nations communities near the lake had expressed concerns about conserving the habitat.
He denied the decision to refuse the environmental permission to this mine had anything to do with public pressure being voiced recently over the province’s stand on the environmental impacts of the massive and controversial Enbridge pipeline between B.C. and Alberta.
On Pacific Booker’s website a statement notes that while the B.C. government had refused an environmental certificate, an assessment by Canada’s Federal Environmental Assessment agency is ongoing. However, Lake told the CBC that the province considered that the application was finished and that if the company wanted to proceed it would have to start the application process over again with a new proposal.