THE mine discussed in the newsletter of the Mining Suppliers' Association of B.C. is the Morrison Copper and Gold project of Pacific Booker Minerals Inc.
Had the approvals been granted, the mine would be located 35 kilometres north of the Village of Granisle and 65 km northeast of Smithers, B.C.
Instead, the company announced late in the afternoon of Feb. 13 it had retained John J.L. Hunter, Q.C. to advance Booker's litigation against the province. The lawsuit is a consequence of the government's refusal to issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate for the company's proposed Morrison Lake mine.
Considering my opposition to fish farms and the Site C Dam, you may wonder why I would support a mine, but when you hear the story of Booker's 10-year experience with our provincial and federal governments, you'll know the answer.
In May 2012, Premier Christy Clark boasted the province would have eight new mines in operation by 2015; she gave no details as to which mines were on her list.
Six months later, her claim was repeated by Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas.
According to information provided by vice-president and chief operating officer Erik Tornquist, Booker began the pre-application stage of the required environmental assessment process on Sept. 30, 2003.
"The review phase itself began in July, 2010 and our application was rejected on Oct. 1, 2012," he said.
Tornquist's fellow director, West Vancouver's John Plourde, affirmed the timeline and added, "The company passed the test of 'no significant adverse effects' both provincially and federally."
Not surprisingly, Plourde said the uncertainty created by the political decision is not good for investment or industry. "The company's 1,100-plus shareholders lost $140 million in equity which will not now be invested in the B.C. economy," he wrote.
Those numbers are made even worse when you delve into the costs Booker shouldered in its attempts to bring the mine into production. Apart from the $10-million cost of the environmental assessment process itself, Tornquist says the company has spent "in excess of $30 million since it began to develop the Morrison property."
Even without knowing which mines were on Clark's list of eight, Coleman's rejection of a company that had provided evidence it had addressed every concern raised by federal and provincial regulators, just doesn't make sense.
Why string a corporation along playing a very expensive game of hammer-the-peg, if the government intended all along to overrule its expert assessors?
By "expensive," I mean for taxpayers as well as the company because if Coleman's decision is allowed to stand, the thousands of man-hours spent by provincial and federal regulators to ensure Booker's operational compliance will have been wasted.
Could the B.C. Liberals be that desperate for every last "green" vote? If that is what's afoot, how many mining-related voters still hoping for an as-promised "business-savvy" government just threw up their hands in disgust?
A two-page company news release dated Feb. 6, (see pacificbooker.com) outlines a raft of now-to-be lost economic benefits:
Jettisoned are 1,117 construction jobs; gone will be 601 jobs a year over the 21-year anticipated mine operation; federal and provincial tax revenues and forfeited increases to the provincial gross domestic product (GDP).
And the beat goes on. More polite than I, Granisle Mayor Linda McGuire expressed her disappointment with the provincial decision in an email last Wednesday evening: "We were hopeful we would see an influx of population and services once again," she wrote.
"As a struggling community without a major industry, this project would have brought new life to our town."
Money isn't everything, of course. Which explains why McGuire's colleague, Coun. James O'Farrell opined that "it's all about the fish, and unfortunately Morrison Lake is in the middle of a watershed."
Yet when I asked about that aspect, Tornquist quoted Section 5.5.5 of the EAO Environmental Assessment report that concluded: "the proposed project does not have the potential for significant adverse effects to fish and fish habitat with the successful implementation of mitigation measures and conditions."
I first heard about Booker's decade-long efforts to gain federal-provincial approvals for its project early last November - 13 months after the B.C. Liberals handed $30 million to Boss Power Corporation on the courthouse steps. That settlement was to compensate the corporation after the government abruptly implemented a province-wide ban on uranium mining, which included the Boss operation south of Kelowna.
Was the money, estimated to be $21 million more than the corporation had invested in "sunk costs" prior to the ban, an attempt to avoid the embarrassment of large-print headlines revealing the government's political interference with the authority of the chief inspector of mines? Are we headed for a similar costly experience with Booker's Morrison Lake project, or will Mayor McGuire's hopes be rewarded?
"Many people recognize the time, effort and money (the company) has spent on this project over the past several years," she said. "We are cautiously optimistic additional effort will be made by Pacific Booker in an attempt to convince government ministries to re-visit their decision."
Could anyone have predicted those efforts would include taking the province to court?
One thing is certain about these 12 years of B.C. Liberal governments - the legal profession must think it's died and gone to heaven.