Ecojustice Blog – Nature Posted on October 5, 2010 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Ecojustice Wins at the Supreme Court!

Devon PageLawyer

This morning at 9:45 a.m. we received word that we won our Supreme Court case concerning the Red Chris mine! We’ve been waiting for this ruling since we presented our case last October, and it’s a monumental victory for us, for the environment, and for public participation that will benefit Canadians for years to come.

The Court ruled that the Canadian government violated the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act when it split the project into artificially small parts to avoid a comprehensive assessment and public consultation. Despite the significant environmental risks posed by this mine, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Natural Resources Canada limited their assessment to a fraction of the mine proposal, removing the actual mine from its environmental review and rubber-stamping a provincial assessment. The Court has ruled that, in the future, the public must now be consulted about major industrial projects, such as large metal mines and tar sands developments.

“The Supreme Court has given Canadians back their voice and, with it, their ability to influence major industrial development across the country,” said Ecojustice lawyer Lara Tessaro, who represented MiningWatch Canada on the case. “This landmark decision confirms that the government can no longer shirk the environmental protection duties that Parliament has assigned to it.”

The proposed Red Chris mine is located near the Sacred Headwaters, the birthplace of Northern BC’s three greatest salmon rivers – the Stikine, Nass and the Skeena. Called “the Serengeti of the North” for its rich biodiversity, the area’s wildlife and waterways are severely threatened by the project. Most shocking of all, the mine seeks to wipe out pristine Black Lake by converting it into a “tailings impoundment area” – a dumpsite for toxic mine waste. And while the ruling did not stop the Red Chris mine from going forward, contrary to some industry reports this does not mean that the mine has been approved. Ecojustice and Mining watch will continue to follow the project throughout the future federal permitting process, and will oppose any permits that threaten our lakes and rivers, or that risk the health of the Sacred Headwaters area. In the meantime, we have successfully secured stronger environmental accountability for future projects throughout the country.

We’ll continue to fight the Canadian government policy of turning lakes into tailings dumps, in BC and across the country. Thanks to this win, our efforts will be even more successful in the future.

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