One of British Columbia`s key economic drivers is the mining sector. Before a mine can be developed there is a rigorous environmental assessment review. The province requires a review that takes into account not only the environmental impact of the proposed mine, but also the net economic value of the development to the province. The Government of Canada has a Review Panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act which also reviews the environmental assessment of the development.
The Federal Review Panel has reviewed two large B.C. mining proposals over the last few years. The Panel’s mandate is to review the ecological and environmental impact of the proposal but does not take into account the net economic value to the economy of the proposal. On November 2 of this year our Minister of Environment, the Honourable Jim Prentice, released the decision of the Panel`s Review as well as Cabinet’s decision on the findings. The Mount Milligan mine near Prince George has been granted federal authorization; however, the Prosperity mine project near Williams Lake was not.
In a time when our province needs jobs and economic activity it was disappointing not to see both go forward, but your Government has the responsibility to be stewards of the environment for all Canadians as well as support wealth creation for our economic well being. All development by man has an environmental impact, but some of those impacts can be mitigated by planned reclamations and a responsible mining plan.
The Prosperity project did not meet the requirements of the Review Panel resulting in their recommendation to Cabinet to reject the authorization. The Review was extensive and was conclusive.
I report this information as a testimony that your Government in Ottawa is honouring our commitment to protect the environment on your behalf. We will not compromise that trust for economic reasons.
The wealth of the Prosperity deposit may be developed in the future if the applicant is able to develop the project within alternate mining plan that would meet the approval of the Review Panel.
Once in production, the Mount Milligan development will provide 600 jobs during construction and 300 full time jobs. This is great news for the area of Prince George that has suffered job losses in the forestry sector.
Both these decisions are good news for British Columbians.
Colin Mayes, MP