Cline Mining’s $500 million lawsuit against the provincial government highlights the urgent need for Mineral Tenure Act reform in B.C, Sierra Club BC and Wildsight said today.
Cline’s lawsuit was launched 27 months after B.C. banned mining development in the Flathead River Valley -- adjoining Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park --where Cline had proposed a controversial coal mine. The lawsuit follows a $30 million settlement the B.C. government paid to Boss Energy in October for an undeveloped uranium deposit near Kelowna after B.C. banned uranium mining.
“B.C.’s outdated Mineral Tenure Act puts the provincial government and taxpayers on the hook for financial compensation,” said Sierra Club BC spokesperson Sarah Cox. “It creates strife and conflict around the province.”
“Our 150 year old act gives special treatment to the mining sector that other sectors do not enjoy,” said Casey Brennan, Wildsight’s Southern Rocky Mountains Program Manager. “It’s time B.C. followed the lead of other provinces and updated our act to take community and environmental concerns into account.”
B.C.’s Mineral Tenure Act is based on the “free entry” system, abandoned by other provinces, that allows claims to be staked virtually anywhere in B.C. without prior approval from the B.C. government or First Nations, and without taking into account the ecological importance of the land in question. Once the claim is made it supersedes all other potential land uses.
Cline’s proposed Lodgepole coal mine in the Rocky Mountains would have removed 40 tonnes of coal over 20 years and dumped 300 millions tonnes of slag and pollutants into Foisy Creek, a headwaters stream of the free-flowing Flathead River.
Wildsight and Sierra Club BC welcomed the ban on Flathead mining and energy development, saying it is a great first step towards permanent protection. The Flathead is a vital link in North America’s longest remaining wildlife corridor.
“We look forward to permanently protecting the Flathead with national park in the southeastern one-third of the valley and a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley,” said Brennan.