– The BC government is concealing documents related to its approval of Max Resource Corp.’s (TSX.V: MXR) gold mining exploration this fall in the ecologically-sensitive Flathead River Valley, environmental groups said today.
On Friday September 18, Ecojustice and other groups were informed by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources that relevant documents could only be accessed through a Freedom of Information request. The Ministry’s position runs counter to government policy indicating that that such documents should be made immediately available as “routinely releasable”.
“If the BC government can assure us there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to mining exploration in the Flathead River Valley, then why can’t we see the documents associated with the project?” said Randy Christensen, a lawyer with Ecojustice.
Last week, it was disclosed that the BC government has approved gold mining exploration near a headwaters stream of the pure and free-flowing Flathead River, contradicting earlier government statements that the area is not at risk from mining. The revelations come as a World Heritage Committee mission begins today to investigate threats that proposed Flathead mining and energy development will have on the adjacent Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and
The lengthy Freedom of Information process, and the Ministry’s poor record on compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, mean it could be months before the public learns what type of activity is actually happening alongside the UNESCO World Heritage Site, said Christensen. “By the time the information is made public, the window to share it with the World Heritage Committee will likely be closed,” he said.
“It seems the same Minister who lobbied for increased Freedom of Information now has something to hide,” said Casey Brennan of Wildsight. “And, ironically, Premier Gordon Campbell is on the record saying that governments should facilitate access to information, not obstruct it.”
“We’re calling on Max Resources Corp, which is holding its annual general meeting today in Vancouver, to voluntarily release all permits and approvals related to its gold exploration in the Flathead River Valley,” said Sarah Cox of Sierra Club BC. “A gold mine does not belong near the headwaters stream of one of the world’s purest rivers and BC’s most endangered river.”