North of 60 Mining News - The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Agencies challenge ruling on Red Chris


Last updated 11/25/2007 at Noon

Canada's ministries of Fisheries and Oceans and Natural Resources have joined the attorney general of Canada and Imperial Metals Corp. subsidiary bcMetals Corp. in appealing a Sept. 25 ruling of the Federal Court of Canada, which set aside a federal screening report issued May 2006 on bcMetals' Red Chris project, according to Imperial Metals.

At issue is the nature of the discretion of federal authorities to scope a project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Imperial is pursuing startup in 2008 of Red Chris, a C$228 million open-pit porphyry copper-gold development 280 miles north of Smithers, B.C. The project is expected to produce 110 million pounds of copper and 75,000 ounces of gold in concentrates during its first five years in operation.

The Red Chris project was subject to both provincial and federal environmental review. Based on the initial project description, Red Chris was first scoped for comprehensive study level review by the responsible federal agencies. After the federal regulators received additional project information, including word that the project was undergoing a full provincial environmental assessment, it was determined that the federal environmental assessment would proceed via a screening report, the company said.

A comprehensive environmental review was then carried out by the province under the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act, in full cooperation with the federal regulators. The review covered the technical, environmental and socio-economic elements of the project and included consultation with the Tahltan First Nation and other local communities as well as public scrutiny.

In July 2005, the B.C. government issued a provincial environmental assessment report that concluded the project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. The project subsequently received a provincial environmental certificate.

In April 2006, federal regulators issued their screening report, which also concluded that the project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The appeal, announced Oct. 31, affects only the federal environmental assessment. If it is successful, the federal screening report will stand. Otherwise, the federal agencies will be required to carry out a comprehensive study level review, which Imperial contends will substantially duplicate work already done by the provincial government.


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