$30M uranium buyout sparks accusations

The B.C. government's settlement to cancel a uranium mining claim cost millions more because of political interference, NDP MLAs say.

Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman

VICTORIA – The B.C. government’s out-of-court settlement to cancel a uranium mining claim in the Okanagan cost millions more because of political interference, NDP MLAs said in the legislature Monday.

The government announced its $30 million settlement with Vancouver-based Boss Power in a news release last week, at the same time as the federal government prepared to announce shipbuilding contracts in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

NDP leader Adrian Dix demanded to know who intervened to stop the inspector of mines from considering a permit application from the company to begin work on a uranium deposit near Kelowna.

A mining tenure was issued for the deposit under the Social Credit government in 1976. The touchy issue of nuclear power and uranium was reviewed in 1979, and an eventual moratorium lasted until 1997. In 2008, the B.C. Liberal government’s energy plan formally ruled out nuclear power and uranium mining, and when Boss Power applied for work permits, they were ignored.

“It’s in the court documents that the deputy minister instructed the inspector of mines not to consider Boss Power’s application,” Dix told the legislature. “It’s crystal clear that the inspector of mines sought advice from the government’s own lawyers, who told him the law required him to consider the application. Yet the inspector of mines was still instructed to ignore the application despite the fact his superiors knew this to be against the law.”

Energy Minister Rich Coleman said the government’s refusal to allow uranium mining was made plain by legislation, and ministry staff would have been instructed accordingly. The province negotiated compensation for Boss Power for mining rights granted and then taken away, he said.

NDP energy critic John Horgan said the permit application was refused because any action on the uranium claim would have created a “political firestorm” for then-mines minister Kevin Krueger in the 2009 B.C. election. The government intervened “to protect the backside of the member from Kamloops South,” Horgan said.

Horgan said buying out the uranium claim would usually mean repaying “sunk costs” of the owner, which he estimated at $5 million. The payout was inflated because the government interfered in a legal process and exposed itself to punitive damages, he said.

Just Posted

Firefighters train for ice rescue

Local emergency personnel get hands-on experience at Idlewild Lake.

WATCH: The top stories in Cranbrook this week

Take a look back at the top stories in Cranbrook between Nov. 11-17.

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Oil dumped illegally at Tie Lake Transfer Station

The Regional District of East Kootenay is searching for any information in… Continue reading

Blues guitar wizard returning to Cranbrook

Colin James plays the Key City Theatre in March, 2018

Cranbrook boy, 6, creates blankets for kids

Elias Quick feels everyone deserves a fuzzy blankets, especially at Cranbrook Transition House and Alberta Children’s Hospital

Barra MacNeils’ Celtic Christmas touches down in Cranbrook Nov. 28

The Barra MacNeil’s national Christmas tour makes its way from coast to… Continue reading

Christmas Village 2017 in support of United Way EK

For the second year in a row, the Cranbrook Townsman, Kimberley Bulletin and Black Press are hosting a magical Christmas village in support of the community.

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Most Read