A few related articles dating back to 2002 are appended below, FYI.....
Appeals court overturns Denison uranium ruling
National Post, Tue 08 Jun 2004
NEW YORK - Denison Mines Inc. said a Canadian appeals court overturned a ruling that threatened a Saskatchewan uranium mine owned partly by Denison and run by the Cogema unit of Areva SA, the French state-controlled holding company for the world's biggest maker of nuclear reactors
The Federal Court of Appeal unanimously overturned the September, 2002, decision of the Trial Division to cancel the operating licence issued in 1999 for the McClean Lake mine, Toronto-based Denison said.
The appeals court had allowed work to continue at the mine pending the appeal.
"The risk was the facility would be shut down," said Peter Farmer, CEO of Denison Mines, which owns 22.5% of the McClean Lake mine. "That risk is now removed."
Canada's federal appeals court withdrew the licence after the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative, a non-governmental environmental group, filed a lawsuit alleging the licensing process wasn't followed by Canada's nuclear-safety regulator. The Inter-Church organization in Saskatoon, Sask., could not be reached for comment.
The decision on Friday awarded the defendants costs for the original trial and appeal, which Mr. Farmer said may be $150,000 to $200,000.
Areva owns 70% of the McClean Lake mine, and OURD (Canada) Co. holds 7.5%.
Panel to hear mine appeal
The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon), Fri 05 Dec 2003
A court date has been set for Cogema Resources Inc. and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to appeal a surprise 2002 decision of the Federal Court of Canada which invalidated Cogema's licence to operate the McClean Lake mine.
A three-judge panel will meet in Saskatoon Jan. 13 to hear Cogema and CNSC argue the mine was licensed properly under federal environmental legislation that existed in the early 1990s.
It will also hear from intervenors, including the province of Saskatchewan and northern aboriginal business leaders, who will talk about the economic importance of the uranium mine.
Tim Gitzel, president of Cogema, says the lawyers for both company and the nuclear regulator are marshalling their arguments. In fact, Gitzel returned from Ottawa Wednesday where he met with CNSC lawyers to go over the points in the appeal.
He says he doesn't know how much longer it will take for the appeal judges to rule on the arguments.
"It can be anywhere from them rendering a decision from the bench that day to six months," said Gitzel, himself a lawyer.
Besides Cogema and CNSC, several intervenors will appear before the appeal court to argue about the economic impact on the north, should McClean Lake lose its licence to operate for any period of time.
"We've been doing everything we can to put our best foot forward, including what we call our Plan B or mitigation plan, should the court case go wrong," Gitzel said. "We're not expecting that, but we've done that to be conscience of our workforce up there of more than 200 people.
Gitzel notes the province will argue economic impact as well as the Lac la Ronge Indian Band and companies such as Northern Resource Trucking.
The 1999 operating licence for McClean Lake was ruled invalid in September 2002 when the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Environmental Co-operative argued before a Federal Court trial judge that McClean Lake's licence was invalid.
The church committee's lawyer argued the federal nuclear regulator should have assessed the mine under the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which was not proclaimed until 1995. The Federal Court judge agreed.
The McClean Lake environmental assessment and licensing process took eight years before final approval was given by AECB, which used the old federal environmental act to assess the mine. The environmental assessment process under the old act began in 1991.
Cogema was able to get a stay on the ruling and continue to operate McClean Lake mill pending appeal.
Besides employing almost 200 people, McClean Lake produced some 6.3 million pounds of uranium in 2002.
While working on its legal arguments, Cogema started a back-up process, launching a new environmental assessment early this year under the rules of the 1995 federal legislation.
"Even though we firmly believe the decision at the trial division was completely wrong, we couldn't risk it would be upheld on appeal," Gitzel said.
The process of a new environmental assessment and licensing takes about two years, and could cost $1 million, so Gitzel says a worst-case scenario legally would be for the company not to lose the appeal of the 2002 decision and have the mine in legal limbo until the new assessment is complete.
"There is a potential gap between the January court date and the date we get our new licence, but we know the extent of the gap," Gitzel said. "Should the court case not go in our favour, we have that backup."
Besides milling stockpiled ore from open pit bodies designated Sue C, McClean Lake's mill will have a role to play in milling ore from the underground Cigar Lake mine when that big development is finally producing ore.
Gitzel says McClean Lake's legal status will have to be settled as part of the Cigar Lake approval process in any event, as it will require a change in the McClean Lake licence.
Canadian Nuclear Association Electronic Newsletter
VOLUME IV JUNE 26, 2003 NUMBER 23
PROVINCE, FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES JOIN McCLEAN LAKE APPEAL
The Attorney General of Saskatchewan and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band et.al.
have been granted status to intervene in the case before the Federal Court of Appeal to
appeal the decision by a lower court to cancel the operating licence of the McClean Lake
uranium operation owned by Cogema Resources Inc.
In their affidavit, the group stated, "We do not see the continued operation of the
McClean Lake mine and mill as a threat to the environment or the health and safety of
our people." It added that employment, training and business opportunities created by the
uranium mining industry are critical for northern peoples to build healthy communities.
"These people (the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative)
are playing games with people's livelihoods, and the court must put an end to it," said
Dave McIlmoyl, Vice-President of Northern Resource Trucking. "The First Nations and
Metis communities that own 71 per cent of NRT have a big stake in this case - uranium
mining is the lifeblood of many northern communities."
The original operating licence issued in 1999 for McClean Lake mine and mill
was cancelled in September, 2002 following a suit by the Inter-Church Uranium
Committee that the federal regulatory agency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission,
improperly applied the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The McClean Lake
facilities are operating with a licence issued in 2001. The licence cancellation was stayed
in court pending appeal.
Cogema Resources Inc. 06/18/03
McClean Lake ruling threat to mining industry
The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) Thu 28 Nov 2002
Forum Business; Opinion
Philip L. Reeves
Following is the personal viewpoint of the writer, executive director of the Saskatchewan Mining Association.
The ongoing court challenge to the validity of the operating licence of the McClean Lake uranium mine has nothing to do with the environment.
Cogema, the majority owner and operator of McClean Lake, has built on its reputation as a safe and responsible operator since mining began at the site three years ago. The mine has an exemplary environmental record and is the first uranium mine in North America -- and the first Saskatchewan mine of any type -- to achieve ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system. That's the highest level of certification available.
So why is Cogema in court fighting to defend its operating licence?
The company is paying a high price for loose ends in the federal government's regulatory laws that have allowed a small group of anti-mining activists to make mischief.
On Sept. 23, a federal court judge ruled in favour of an application filed by the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative against the Atomic Energy Control Board, which is now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
The legal issue was whether the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which became law in 1995 when the environmental review of the McClean Lake project had been under way for four years under the previous legislation, should apply.
For its part, Cogema followed to the letter a rigorous federal-provincial environmental assessment and review process. Public hearings were held, technical issues were considered and reviewed, everyone had a say. After eight years of review, the AECB was satisfied that the project is environmentally sound and issued an operating licence.
In fact, this project was granted a revised operating licence to allow for increased annual production in 2001, following an environmental screening pursuant to the act.
While McClean Lake continues to operate under a recent stay granted by the Federal Court of Appeal, the ruling puts the regulatory process in doubt and leaves a cloud of uncertainty over the McClean Lake operation. Cogema's reputation as a safe and responsible operator has suffered without justification.
I have been to McClean Lake on several occasions with teachers, northern residents, news media and others to tour the mine site and its environmental management systems. I was struck by the commitment of Cogema's workers and managers to environmental protection and safety. About half of the mine's employees are northern Saskatchewan residents, primarily aboriginal people, who have a real interest in protecting the environment because they live there.
Rather than honour that commitment and the mine's outstanding record on environmental protection, the court has left a false impression that there's something wrong at McClean Lake.
Worse, it opens the possibility of a forced shutdown of the mine that would put at risk more than half a billion dollars of investment, almost all of which was spent on goods and services in this province. Most of the mine's 200 employees would lose their jobs. Communities, particularly northern communities, would lose their breadwinners. Suppliers and contractors across the province would lose valuable business. And hundreds of millions in potential mining investment over the next few years could be lost.
This climate of regulatory uncertainty affects not only Saskatchewan's but Canada's reputation as a stable place to invest in mining ventures. Such a black mark on the province's investment climate couldn't come at a worse time, as our premier is currently embarking on a major campaign to promote the merits and attractiveness of doing business in Saskatchewan.
Don't get me wrong. Saskatchewan's mining industry is not opposed to environmental regulation, rather we are proud to be setting national and international standards for environmental protection, safety and quality.
That's why we are the third-largest industry, after petroleum and agriculture, in the province. We will continue to set these high standards, but we need a stable and supportive regulatory environment within which to do it.
The case now before the courts is not about environmental performance at McClean Lake, but about technical legal issues with respect to the licensing process. The main parties are a federal regulatory agency and anti-mining activists. The dispute puts hundreds of jobs at risk and does nothing to protect the environment.
I can only hope the issue is resolved soon and we can all get back to focusing our attention on more constructive initiatives that will result in vitally needed economic growth in our province.
Group irked by decision to keep mine open
The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) Thu 28 Nov 2002
The Inter Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC) accused the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Wednesday of sidestepping the law by failing to temporarily close a northern Saskatchewan uranium mine.
"This is clearly a case where the fox is guarding the henhouse. CNSC has ignored the rule of law and placed itself above the law," said ICUCEC board chair Graham Simpson.
The ICUCEC, a privately funded environmental group, won a federal court challenge Sept. 23 to quash a 1999 operating licence for the McClean Lake uranium mine, located approximately 700 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. The mine is majority owned and operated by Cogema Resources Inc. and regulated by the CNSC.
While the ICUCEC believes that the ruling should have resulted in the immediate shutdown of the McClean Lake facility, the mine continued to operate while motions were put in place to have the decision stayed.
"The rule of law in our democracy means that the law is supreme, and that officials of the government have not the option to disobey it. That the government must, and will, obey the law is the first principle of our constitution," said Simpson.
A federal court judge in Calgary ruled Nov. 7 that Cogema and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) could have a stay of the Sept. 23 ruling, allowing the McClean Lake facility to remain in operation until an appeal of the case can be heard.
According to CNSC spokesperson Tim O'Conner, the mine remained operational under a licence issued in 2001, which is independent of the quashed 1999 license.
"Our legal interpretation is that there has been no invalidation of the current operating licence by the courts," said O'Conner.
However, ICUCEC maintains that changes to the mine's operating licence in 2001 were amendments to the 1999 licence, and do not constitute a new licence.
As to the accusation that the CNSC disobeyed the law in its actions, O'Connor declined to comment with the appeal of the Sept. 23 ruling pending.
A date for the appeal has not been set.