Pacific Booker will have three years to provide additional information once a supplemental application requirements document is provided, as per an information bulletin from the Environmental Assessment Office.
In the bulletin, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett outline a number of factors that influenced their decision, including what they see as issues with fundamental aspects of the mine’s design and proposed mitigation measures, as well as “insufficient baseline information about and understanding of the Morrison Lake ecosystem” and “the environmental and other values at stake.” Morrison Lake is home to a unique population of sockeye salmon, the ministers state.
“The ministers concluded that the information currently available to them does not provide them with a sufficient level of confidence that the mine͛s design can sufficiently protect the environment,” the bulletin notes.
Additional assessments needed for the project will include an analysis of the capacity of Morrison Lake to assimilate treated waste water from the mine, and further analysis of sockeye salmon use of the area. Additional analysis of whether the mine is likely to have significant adverse effects on the environment will be included as well.
Furthermore, the ministers state that scope of the updated assessment should include “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.”
In its release on the government’s decision, Pacific Booker notes that “[t]he scope of the further assessment includes many components which were required to be completed in support of the Mines Act/Environmental Management Act permits and was planned to be completed prior to applying for permits after receiving the Environmental Assessment Certificate.”
The proposal for the open-pit Morrison mine was rejected by the former ministers of energy and mines and the environment in 2012. Pacific Booker sued the province and won the right for the proposal to be reconsidered — the Supreme Court ruled that the company hadn’t had ample opportunity to respond to concerns raised during the assessment process.
However, the project was put on hold again following a disastrous tailings dam collapse at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold mine last August. BC called for independent third-party reviews of tailings ponds across the province following the breach.
Mount Polley could reopen this July, less than a year after it was put on care and maintenance following the event.
Meanwhile, Imperial Metals has received a green light for its Red Chris mine in Northern BC, which, like Mount Polley, has seen some controversy. As The Canadian Press notes, the mine has faced “considerable opposition” from local First Nation and Alaskans, as it is located about 130 kilometers from the Alaskan border. Construction of Red Chris was completed in November 2014, and Imperial Metals started trucking concentrate from the mine to the Port of Stewart in BC prior to receiving its final permit.
For now, investors will have to wait and see what Pacific Booker’s next move will be. The company’s share price dipped 2.73 percent, to $5.35, on the TSX Venture before trading was halted during Wednesday trading hours.
Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Pacific Booker Minerals is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.