The Kitsault mine in British Columbia has received environmental approval from the BC government despite objections from the Nisga’a First Nation over environmental impacts.
The provincial government put out a press release on Tuesday afternoon saying that Avanti Mining (TSXV:AVT) can move forward on its plan to restart the mothballed molybdenum mine located north of Prince Rupert. The ministers responsible announced that an Environmental Assessment Certificate was issued after an environmental review concluded that the mine is not expected to result in significant adverse effects.
The review focused mostly on the likelihood of the mine’s impacts on water quality, fish, and wildlife along the transportation corridor. Details of the Ministers’ Decision can be found here. The certificate issued on Tuesday includes 34 conditions including that Avanti complete management and mitigation plans in consultation with the Nisga’a Government.
That may not be enough to satisfy the Nisga’a, however, whose territory surrounds the planned open-pit mine, which would produce between 40,000 and 50,000 tonnes of ore per day for 16 years.
The Nisga’s has raised concerns that the Kitsault mine is moving too quickly without considering all the impacts on the First Nation, and that the BC government is trying to rush the project before the provincial election in May.
Nisga’a Lisims president Mitchell Stevens said Tuesday the province has not met it treaty obligations under the Nisga’a Treaty, the province’s first modern-day treaty signed in 2000, reported The Vancouver Sun newspaper:
“The conditions in the certificate that refer to developing plans some time in the future fall well short of the province’s constitutional obligations under the Nisga’a treaty,” Stevens said.
The nation announced last week they would invoke the dispute resolution mechanism of the treaty. However, Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy and Mines Minister Rich Colemen said the Crown has met its obligations under the treaty:
“We are satisfied that the Province can engage, in good faith, in the dispute resolution stages, and meaningfully address any outstanding issues through the subsequent process required for permitting and in accordance with conditions of an EA Certificate,” they wrote in their decision.
Responding to the Nisga’a plans to go to dispute resolution, Avanti Mining said last week that the Nisga’a were key participants in the environmental review and that the company provided the nation funds to participate:
“The amount of work that we have done to ensure the Nisga’a Treaty requirements have been met has been extraordinary and unprecedented, and the government has already gone well past the statutory timeframes,” Avanti CEO Craig Nelsen stated.
The mine would inject some $1 billion in new capital spending over 25 months of construction to local communities and provide over 700 construction jobs and 300 jobs during its 16-year minelife to local communities including the Nisga’a, Avanti noted in its press release.
Kitsault has proven and probable reserves of 232.5 million tonnes grading 0.081% Mo and containing 415.8 million pounds of molybdenum as outlined in the 2010 feasibility study.
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