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British Columbia officials reject proposed Morrison Lake mine for the second time

pacific booker minerals morrison lake.JPG
Image courtesy Pacific Booker Minerals
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Vancouver-based Pacific Booker Minerals proposed an open-pit mine project on Morrison Lake in British Columbia. BC officials rejected the proposal for the second time out of water quality and environmental concerns.

British Columbia officials rejected a proposed open-pit mine for the second time.

In 2003, Vancouver-based Pacific Booker Minerals began the easement process for the gold, copper and molybdenum mine project on the shores of T’akh Tl’ah Bin, or Morrison Lake – about 200 miles east of Ketchikan. The project would cover about 5,000 acres.

Chris Zimmer is the Alaska campaign director for Rivers Without Borders, a nonprofit organization that advocates for transboundary conservation.

“This one was had to be pretty egregious not to make it past a rubber stamp, but in the end, they did the right thing,” Zimmer said. “It shouldn't have taken this long. This project really shouldn't have gone out the door. It was clear from the beginning that it had a lot of opposition and had a real potential to hammer the sockeye population and the water quality there.”

According to reporting from The Narwhal, miners eyed the area for its gold and copper as far back as the 1960s, and in the 1990s plans began to develop the site.

British Columbia officials first rejected the proposed mine in 2012 – because it posed too much risk to the fish and water.

Morrison Lake feeds the Skeena River watershed, which enters the ocean 50 miles south of Alaska and the U.S. border.

“I think most people are concerned about the health of salmon populations up and down the coast because if we start getting even more crashes in the salmon populations, we're going to see more economic restrictions on fishermen,” Zimmer said. “We're going to see more restrictions on fishing. And at some point those salmon stocks may not be able to recover. And you get this cascading series of effects of extinctions or declines in salmon runs and then you have hits on business and recreation and culture.”

Depending on the year, about 90 percent of Skeena River sockeye comes from the watershed, which is Canada’s second-largest in salmon-producing.

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