$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

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

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read