Avanti urges decision on Kitsault mine despite Nisga'a concerns

VANCOUVER – A Vancouver-based mining company says it has spent four years and $13 million shepherding the revival of a mothballed northwestern B.C. mine through the environmental process, and there are no reasons for further delay.

Avanti Mining Inc. is responding to the decision by the Nisga’a Lisims Government to launch the dispute resolution provision within the First Nation’s historic treaty, in hopes of slowing provincial approval of the Kitsault mine.

Avanti president Craig Nelsen says the company has gone to “extraordinary and unprecedented” effort to ensure the Nisga’a Treaty requirements have been met for the billion-dollar molybdenum mine, 140 kilometres north of Prince Rupert.

He says although the dispute resolution process is now in play, nothing in the treaty or provincial legislation prevents Environment Minister Terry Lake and Mines Minister Rich Coleman from making a decision within the next 30 days on an environmental assessment certificate for Kitsault.

The Nisga’a fear the mine, which is in their traditional territory, is being rushed through the approval process to beat the upcoming May 14 provincial election.

The company purchased the mine in 2008, more than 25 years after it was closed because of low molybdenum prices, but Avanti says higher prices for the element means the mine can be profitable for at least the next 16-years, creating as many as 300 local jobs.