Blizzard could hurt Okanagan ski area 

Big White not glowing over Boss Power’s plans to mine uranium

click to enlarge Blain Vernon-Jarvis
  • Blain Vernon-Jarvis

B.C.’s uranium-mining dispute of the 1970s has been cracked open again as a Vancouver company makes preparations to mine near Big White Resort.

Boss Power Inc. has acquired rights to the uranium site called the Blizzard property, located just 8 km southeast of Big White Village. The company is currently in the process of obtaining a permit to begin mining by fall.

The property contains an estimated 12 million pounds of uranium, and Boss Power estimates the gross value of the deposit could be worth $1 billion.

Residents and environmentalists, however, are wary of the project, stating that uranium’s radioactivity poses health and environmental risks.

Big White resort is also worried that the ugly sight of the mine could impact the ski resort’s heavy reliance on tourism. The resort’s owner, Schumann Resorts Ltd., stated in a letter to the provincial government that it would rather not have the resort live side-by-side with the uranium mine.

The Blizzard site was discovered in the late 1970s. It was briefly explored until 1980 when the B.C. government, under premier Bill Bennett, put a seven-year moratorium on uranium mining throughout the province. The early work on the mine, however, left holes and debris still visible today.

In fact, much of the province was explored for uranium in the 1970s when the element’s high commodity prices pushed investors on a pro-uranium agenda. The huge public backlash, however, led the government to institute the moratorium, which dissipated investor hype.

Now, the recent sky rocketing of uranium’s commodity price has turned investor focus back to uranium. According to Scotiabank’s commodity price index released two weeks ago, uranium prices have doubled since mid-December to a current value of US$125 per pound.

In recent years the provincial government has also made efforts to entice the mining industry back to B.C., offering assurances that mining applications will be dealt with fairly and on a case-by-case basis.

At least 15 companies are currently performing uranium exploration in B.C., and Canada is currently the largest exporter of uranium ore in the world.

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