The British Columbia Court of Appeal Confirms Limits on the Duty to Consult in Face of Mine Owner’s Rights: Louis v. British Columbia (Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources)
On September 26, 2013, the British Columbia Court of Appeal (BCCA) released an important decision regarding the scope of the Crown’s duty to consult Aboriginal peoples in regard to government approvals for existing resource extraction operations.
In Louis v. British Columbia (Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources) (Louis), the BCCA confirmed that consultation regarding a government approval for an existing operation (in this case, an open-pit molybdenum mine located in northeastern British Columbia that had been in operation since 1965) need focus only on the impacts, if any, of the specific activities for which government approval was being sought. The BCCA rejected the argument of the Stellat’en First Nation (Stellat’en) that the approvals sought for a mine expansion project (including a permit amendment to allow the construction of a larger, more technologically advanced mill) should be viewed as an application to extend the life of the mine beyond the previously projected closure date. The BCCA held that the Crown could not use its regulatory discretion as a tool to undermine the existing rights of the applicant – which included previously granted rights to the minerals to be mined – by trying to arbitrarily control whether the mine could remain in operation. Read more.
Aboriginal BCCA British Columbia Court of Appeal ECDA Economic Community Development Agreement First Nation Haida Nation MEMPR Mines Act Rio Tinto Thompson Creek