VANCOUVER – At a time when British Columbia’s premier has staked her jobs agenda on a burgeoning mining industry, the province has agreed to hand over $30 million to one company in a settlement over what the company’s president called “dirty dealings.”
Boss Power Corp. and lawyers for the provincial government were scheduled to square off in court this month over the company’s claim that the province had effectively expropriated its uranium deposit 50 kilometres northeast of Penticton without compensation.
Instead, lawyers for the government agreed to the pay out, saying in a news release earlier this week that B.C. had reached a legal agreement for Boss Power to surrender all claims to its uranium and mining rights.
The news release did not mention that in court documents, the province acknowledged its officials had deliberately ignored a so-called notice of work request, effectively grinding any exploration work on the company’s uranium property to a halt.
Just days after the notice was filed in April 2008, B.C. announced an effective ban on uranium mining in the province.
Premier Christy Clark said Friday the settlement isn’t the end of the legal action and that further legal action will likely arise as a result.
“What they (government officials) were trying to do is something that I think was something that was very much in line with public opinion in British Columbia, which was ban uranium mining,” Clark said, adding she wasn’t in government at the time
The facts agreed to by both parties in the court documents are potentially explosive.
The court statement noted the chief inspector of mines was told twice not to process Boss Power’s work order.
The second time, the instructions were delivered despite legal advice from the Ministry of the Attorney General which concluded there was a statutory obligation for the chief mines inspector to consider the mine on its merits.
But the chief inspector was advised the notice of work should not be processed and approval for the work should not be granted.
The chief inspector was then removed from the file, the court documents show.
The court documents also show the subterfuge was probably unnecessary: The uranium site is surrounded by Crown land and developing it would have required permission for mining vehicles to cross it, permission that simply didn’t have to be given.
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