Vancouver-based Avanti Mining (TSXV:AVT) responded this morning to the recent decision by a BC First Nation to launch a dispute resolution process with the provincial government over an environmental assessment of the Kitsault molybdenum mine.
The move on the part of the Nisga'a Lisims Government could delay the restart of the past-producing mine located north of Prince Rupert. Kitsault has proven and probable reserves of 232.5 million tonnes grading 0.081% Mo and containing 415.8 million pounds of molybdenum as outlined in the 2010 feasibility study.
Avanti President Craig Nelsen said the company has spent four years and $13 million on assessing the environmental impacts of the mine, and noted that BC's environment assessment process is "one of the most rigorous anywhere."He also said the Nisga's were key participants in the process and the company provided the First Nation funding to do so. "The amount of work that we have done to ensure the Nisga'a Treaty requirements have been met has been extraordinary and unprecedented, and the government has already gone well past the statutory timeframes," Nelsen said, adding: "We firmly believe that BC and Canada have fulfilled their obligations under the Treaty and fully expect the Ministers to approve this project at this time." According to Avanti, there is nothing in the Nisga'a Treaty or provincial legislation preventing ministers from making a decision on environmental assessment, despite the Nisga'a having initiated dispute resolution. The mine would inject some $1 billion in new capital spending over 25 months of construction to local communities and provide over 700 construction jobs and 300 jobs during its 16-year minelife to local communities including the Nisga'a, Avanti noted in its press release. For its part, leaders of the Nisga'a Nation said Thursday that the billion-dollar molybdenum mine would violate the province's first modern-day treaty.