COLUMN: How to divvy up the land?

In an opinion piece in the Province, Gavin Dirom says his industry needs better access to land.

Recent mining news.

In an opinion piece in the Province newspaper, Gavin Dirom, CEO of the Association of Mineral Exploration for B.C., says his industry needs better access to land if it is to prosper and enrich the province. Of course it does. The problem is, B.C. has a limited amount of land — how to divvy it up? Mr. Dirom feels too much land is tied up in parks, restricted areas and “other designated areas.”

Like agricultural land? Forested land? First Nations land? Case in point. China Minerals Mining Corp, which has offices in Vancouver and Beijing, and its subsidiary Cassiar Gold Corp, has filed a petition with the BC Supreme Court seeking to reverse part of a B.C. government’s transfer of Crown land in northern B.C. to the Kaska Dena.

According the Globe and Mail, China Minerals holds mineral tenure on some of the transferred land and has invested some $36-million in exploration and drilling. The company says it wasn’t consulted, and the First Nation group’s plan for a hydroelectric project is incompatible with developing gold mines. The province says it has acted in accordance with its legal obligations. The company says the issue should concern all resource companies in the province. I’m sure it does.

In other mining news, the BC Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed in 2012 by Taseko Mines against the Wilderness Committee (WC) claiming the environmental group made defamatory statements about the proposed New Prosperity Mine during the public comment period.

Many believed it was a (SLAPP) case, a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” SLAPPs are usually intended to stifle protests. They tend to work in favour of corporations who launch the suits because the defending critics seldom have the resources to go to court so they shut up. In this case, WC did defend itself and the Hon. Justice Gordon Funt awarded the group court costs and extra costs incurred from the lawsuit. According to reports, Taseko is continuing with two judicial reviews against the federal government’s decision to disallow the mine.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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