The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling rejecting the Stellaten First Nation's claim it was not properly consulted on the expansion of the Endako molybdenum mine.
The court agreed with a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that the Crown did not err in conducting consultations on a piecemeal basis nor in refusing to consider the extension of the mines life in the consultations.
The mine's owner, Thompson Creek Metals, was entitled to mine on the land indefinitely, and it would have been an abuse of the Crowns authority to use the permitting process as a backdoor method of reducing the mining tenure, the court found.
Consultations had failed largely because the parties took disparate views of the appropriate scope of consultation and a B.C. Supreme Court Justice dismissed the Stellaten case in August 2011.
In a ruling written on behalf of the appeal court, Justice Harvey Groberman encouraged, but did not order, efforts to address Stellaten concerns and eliminating or reducing the effects where possible.
The centrepiece of the expansion, a new $650-million mill that nearly doubles the daily processing capacity to 55,000 tonnes, was opened in June 2012. The mine, then 42 years old, is now expected to last another 18 years.
The mine is located 190 kilometres west of Prince George and on land over that the Stellaten claim aboriginal title and rights. The Stellaten's main community is located at the confluence of the Stellaquo and Endako Rivers at Fraser Lake, about 10 kilometres from the mine.