Mining in an ENGO hole – by Peter Foster (National Post – March 5, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

“We live in a world with thuggish NGOs breathing down our necks”

If Stephen Harper went to the mammoth Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention in Toronto this week to provide a boost to the industry, he chose a strange way of doing it.

Why would the PM bash Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity project in B.C. by suggesting that the environmental report that turned it down was “damning?” Presumably he did so to counter the constant allegation that his government is “soft” on the environment. However, his move backfired since it drew a sharp response from Taseko (as reported by the Post’s Peter Koven).

Taseko’s forthright vice president of corporate affairs, Brian Battison, questioned both Mr. Harper’s understanding of the project’s environmental threats and the status of related aboriginal land claims. He pointed our that those claims had been deemed not to meet the test of legal title. The case is now before the Supreme Court.

One doubts, meanwhile, that talking about turning down Taseko won the feds any brownie points when it comes to the real issue: the extraordinary success of radical environmental groups in holding the extractive industries in Canada — not just mining but oil and gas and forestry — to ransom. The biggest concentration of mining projects on earth is in the Alberta oil sands, which have become the focus of rabid – and successful – opposition.

The attack by environmental NGOs and their cohorts on hard rock mining has been cleverly tailored to the international character of that industry, although their power has also been felt at home in areas such as the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario.

A year ago, President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement announced that he would be the government’s point man in the area, but the problem, as noted in this space at the time, is Ontario legislation such as the Endangered Species Act and the Far North Act, both of which were molded by radical environmental interests.

Last year, Cliffs Natural Resources, the leading proponent of Ring of Fire development, suspended its operations in the area. Hardly by coincidence, Ontario fell from 16th to 28th in this year’s annual mining survey from the Fraser Institute.

The Harper government, while it has introduced legislation to streamline regulatory approvals, and has fingered foreign-funded radical environmental groups, nevertheless continues to struggle with skillful anti-development opponents, a key part of whose strategy has been to apply pressure not merely through government but also by “engaging,” that is, threatening, companies directly.

For the rest of this article, click here: