Vancouver – Chief Wilf Adam of the Lake Babine Nation says the BC government has made the right decision in denying Pacific Booker Minerals the ability to proceed with its Morrison Mine proposal.
The proposed mine is adjacent to Morrison Lake, which lies within Lake Babine Nation territory 65 kilometres northeast of Smithers.
“The Lake Babine Nation has opposed Pacific Booker Minerals’ application to develop a large copper-gold deposit in our territory since it was first proposed in 2003,” stated Chief Adam. “I want to make clear that Lake Babine Nation is not opposed to working with corporations and governments to sustainably develop our resources in a manner that strengthens our Nation. But this proposal is neither sustainable nor in the best interests of the Lake Babine people.”
Morrison Lake is home to a genetically distinct population of sockeye salmon that are critically important to the Lake Babine Nation. This fish stock, already depressed from overharvesting and recent unexplained declines in productivity, would be put at further risk by any contaminants leaching from the proposed mine into Morrison Lake. The mine would also have negative impacts on habitat and water flow regimes.
Sockeye salmon rear for two years in Morrison Lake before beginning their migration to the Pacific Ocean. As the juvenile sockeye salmon migrate from Morrison Lake into Babine Lake they encounter the pollution left by two now-closed copper-gold mines near Babine Lake, which continue to leach toxic acid and metals into the lake. Concern that the Morrison Mine would add to the cumulative discharges from the two closed mines was a recurring theme raised during the assessment process.
“Sockeye salmon are a renewable resource at the heart of our culture and communities. We are one with our salmon,” said Chief Adam. “Threatening our salmon threatens us as a people.”
Salmon are also an important source of employment and income for the Lake Babine Nation. In 2011 and 2012, one of the largest commercial sockeye fisheries south of Cook Inlet Alaska occurred in Lake Babine territory. The fish the Lake Babine Nation caught were sold into markets throughout North America and the world.
“We can’t risk trading a renewable, sustainable fishery for a non-renewable mine that will leave a legacy of contaminants and toxins in our territory,” concluded Chief Adam. “We thank the Province of BC, and in particular, the Environmental Assessment Office, for listening to the concerns of the Lake Babine Nation.”