Exclusive: FOI investigation sheds light on political manoeuvring behind B.C.'s 2008 uranium moratorium

Documents obtained by BIV track the implementation of a policy that cost B.C. taxpayers a $30 million settlement with Boss Power and stalled future uranium ...

The B.C. government's 2008 uranium ban has stopped B.C.'s explorers and miners from pursuing projects similar to Cameco's McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan

BC's 2008 ban on uranium exploration and mining was implemented amidst a milieu of government PR scheming, bureaucrat confusion and mining industry ire.

That's the story revealed by hundreds of pages of internal government documents that Business in Vancouver has obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. The pages document the lead up to and implementation of the ban that eventually resulted in the provincial government's $30 million legal settlement with Boss Power Corp. (TSX.V:BPU), which was announced in October 2011.

On April 24, 2008, the B.C. government established a "no registration reserve" for uranium and thorium, meaning that rights to uranium or thorium would not be included in any future claims staked in the province. The province also stated that "government will ensure that all uranium deposits will remain undeveloped."

In its pursuit of the reasons behind the ban, BIV filed an FOI request, which has eventually yielded a large volume of behind-the-scenes documents. They include government emails and briefing notes that track how the policy change – a de facto uranium ban – was implemented.

While heavily redacted, the pages paint a picture of a government attempting to avoid compensation claims from resource and exploration companies, bureaucrats trying to mitigate industry ire and a crucial mining permit application that allegedly went unnoticed by bureaucrats until after the ban was announced.

Angry explorers bow out of government PR exercise


Following the announcement of the uranium moratorium, a government bureaucrat asked the Association for Mineral Exploration BC (AME BC) to provide government-friendly quotes for BC Mining Week. The request triggered the following email response on May 13, 2008, from then AME BC president and CEO Dan Jepsen:

"With all the bad news lately that has been delivered from Victoria … there is no appetite from our 5,000 members to participate in providing positive quotes for the government."

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