Criticism continues to flow from the mining industry over the provincial government’s decision to ban mining and mineral exploration in the Flathead Valley southeast of Cranbrook.
The latest group to weigh in is the East Kootenay Chamber of Mines (EKCM) which says it’s “deeply disappointed” in Victoria’s decision.
EKCM President Ross Stanfield says the chamber got no advance warning of the government’s decision and hasn’t heard from Victoria since. “Where is due process?
Stanfield says EKCM members will be seeking compensation for the claims they have in the Flathead and the chamber will support them in their battle. The decision sends out a negative message for all those interested in investing in B.C., he says.
“This issue is not going to die because it raises a number of issues that are important to the mining industry in B.C.,” he says.
Stanfield said the long-running CORE (Commission on Resources and the Environment) process 15 years ago was supposed to have settled land-use and resource conflict issues in the province. “In fairness, we went through a land plan so people could make corporate decisions and those land plans hadn’t really been modified until we got to here (the Flathead) and they were totally shut off.”[snip...]
Stanfield says he doesn’t buy the contention that mining would mean an end to hunting and fishing in the valley that’s renowned for its wildlife. “Last year, we had the world’s fly fishing championship on the Elk River and that’s downstream from five world-class coal mines. What is that saying about mining in British Columbia?”
The decision to close the Flathead to mining and mineral exploration appears to have been influenced by forces south of the border, Stanfield says. “I think Senator (Max) Baucus has been consistent. He’s fought it since the mid-70’s . . . It’s not surprising. There really isn’t a downside to attacking British Columbia.
“Governor Schweitzer has proudly proclaimed Montana to be the Saudi Arabia of coal. They’re actively selling coal leases in their state. They have coal bed methane and any number of mining opportunities.”
In a press release issued last, the EKCM says the government has its priorities wrong on the Flathead decision.
“While at first the ruling appears only to affect the mining and energy sectors, it in reality touches all British Columbians. The Flathead contains the potential of billions of dollars in resource values which translate to hundreds of potential jobs and millions of tax dollars lost to the province.
“This in a province that has cut programs and services across the board.”
Meanwhile Nic Milligan, manager of communications and government affairs for the giant Teck Corporation, says his company also feels it deserves compensation as a result of the Flathead decision.
“We understand that priorities change, but we continue to believe that we deserve fair treatment, including compensation for any rights that we’ve lost in this decision.”
Teck has eight coal licenses in the Lillyburt area of the Flathead and renewed them as recently as two years ago. Milligan says he has no information on the value of the coal leases.
Comment by Gary E
I am tired of these newspapers in the Black Press and BC Local News not publishing fair comments in their papers. I have been banned in the 100 Mile Free Press and others for my opinions. So I have decided to copy my comments and publish them here with edited versions of the stories. I urge other bloggers to do the same.
UPDATE: since I published this story 100 Mile Free Press has published one of my comments. Coincidence? Maybe.