$30M uranium buyout sparks accusations

The B.C. government's settlement to cancel a uranium mining claim cost millions more because of political interference, NDP MLAs say.

Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman

VICTORIA – The B.C. government’s out-of-court settlement to cancel a uranium mining claim in the Okanagan cost millions more because of political interference, NDP MLAs said in the legislature Monday.

The government announced its $30 million settlement with Vancouver-based Boss Power in a news release last week, at the same time as the federal government prepared to announce shipbuilding contracts in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

NDP leader Adrian Dix demanded to know who intervened to stop the inspector of mines from considering a permit application from the company to begin work on a uranium deposit near Kelowna.

A mining tenure was issued for the deposit under the Social Credit government in 1976. The touchy issue of nuclear power and uranium was reviewed in 1979, and an eventual moratorium lasted until 1997. In 2008, the B.C. Liberal government’s energy plan formally ruled out nuclear power and uranium mining, and when Boss Power applied for work permits, they were ignored.

“It’s in the court documents that the deputy minister instructed the inspector of mines not to consider Boss Power’s application,” Dix told the legislature. “It’s crystal clear that the inspector of mines sought advice from the government’s own lawyers, who told him the law required him to consider the application. Yet the inspector of mines was still instructed to ignore the application despite the fact his superiors knew this to be against the law.”

Energy Minister Rich Coleman said the government’s refusal to allow uranium mining was made plain by legislation, and ministry staff would have been instructed accordingly. The province negotiated compensation for Boss Power for mining rights granted and then taken away, he said.

NDP energy critic John Horgan said the permit application was refused because any action on the uranium claim would have created a “political firestorm” for then-mines minister Kevin Krueger in the 2009 B.C. election. The government intervened “to protect the backside of the member from Kamloops South,” Horgan said.

Horgan said buying out the uranium claim would usually mean repaying “sunk costs” of the owner, which he estimated at $5 million. The payout was inflated because the government interfered in a legal process and exposed itself to punitive damages, he said.

Just Posted

BM&TS show ‘a tale as old as time’

The theatre group produced Beauty and the Beast.

Video: MP hears pot, pipeline and politics concerns

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP hosts town hall forum in Penticton

Needles killer frightened many in our town: BC author

Roy Bugera disrupted life in a quiet Vancouver Island village before moving to Arrow Lakes

RCMP investigate stabbing incident

Injuries were non-life threatening, RCMP report

Health Minister says coming changes will make difference in rural communities.

“As a government, Premier Horgan is committed to improving the ambulance service.”

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Most Read