$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

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

UPDATE: Second collision on Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm now clear

Emergency crews respond to motor-vehicle collision near Second Nations Road intersection

CSRD to seek public assent to borrow $1.77 million for park purchase

Formal opposition from 10 per cent of electors required to halt loan

Air ambulance called to Highway 1 crash near Tappen

The collision happened about 3:30 p.m. by James Road

Food trucks feed festivalgoers’ want for unique dining experience

Roots and Blues returns with variety of vendors, continues with recycle and compost program

Video: Crowd thrilled at S-Games in Sicamous

The celebration of two-wheeled transportation showed off daring athletes on all kinds of bikes.

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Backhoe ‘burned to a crisp’ in South Okanagan

South Okanagan fire chief said the situation could have been a lot worse

Our history in pictures: The Ireland residence

According Salmon Arm Museum records, this image was taken in front of… Continue reading

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Letter: Make CSRD directors’ term limit subject to alternative approval process

Writer upset by regional district’s recent “money pit” proposals

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Okanagan-based pop star Andrew Allen is back with a new band

Singer-songwriter Andrew Allen is bringing his new band home for a concert this Friday

Most Read