Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett have ordered that Pacific Booker Mineral Inc.’s proposed Morrison copper-gold mine must undergo further assessment.
In making their decision, the ministers have considered a number of matters they consider to be in the public interest, including:
- issues of risk and uncertainty associated with fundamental aspects of the mine’s design;
- issues of risk and uncertainty associated with the proposed mitigation measures;
- insufficient baseline information about and understanding of the Morrison Lake ecosystem;
- the environmental and other values at stake, particularly those associated with Morrison Lake and its unique population of sockeye salmon; and
- whether there may be other design alternatives and/or mitigation measures that might support a higher level of confidence that significant adverse effects are not likely to result from the mine.
The ministers concluded that the information currently available to them does not provide them with a sufficient level of confidence that the mine’s design can sufficiently protect the environment.
The ministers set out the scope of the further assessment, including:
- additional baseline information and analysis regarding:
- the capacity of Morrison Lake to assimilate treated waste water from the mine. A minimum of one year of new baseline data must be collected;
- sockeye salmon use of Morrison Lake, Upper and Lower Tahlo Creek and the Morrison River;
- hydrogeological and groundwater data for areas between the mine and Morrison Lake; and
- instream flow requirements for the Morrison River;
- additional analysis of the feasibility and effectiveness of alternatives to the current mine design and mitigation measures to reduce the levels of risk and uncertainty of potential impacts from the mine;
- additional analysis of whether the mine is likely to have significant adverse effects on the environment;
- a description and assessment of alternative means of undertaking the project with respect to tailings management that:
- considers technology, siting and water balance;
- presents and compares best practices and best available technologies; and
- provides a clear and transparent evaluation of the factors that supported the selection of the most suitable option; and
- 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.
Under the terms of the ministers’ order, Pacific Booker Minerals has three years to provide the additional information once a supplemental application information requirements document is approved by the Environmental Assessment Office. The ministers’ order and their letter to Pacific Booker Minerals explaining the reasons underlying their decision are available here: http://tinyurl.com/o8uzopw
The proposed Morrison mine is located 65 kilometres northeast of Smithers. The project is a conventional open pit mine with a planned extraction rate of about 30,000 tonnes a day and a mine life of 21 years.
Ministry of Environment