Imperial Metals Corporation

Imperial Metals Corporation

June 16, 2008 09:30 ET

Imperial Reports the Federal Court of Appeal Reverses Lower Court Ruling on the Federal Environmental Assessment of the Red Chris Project

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 16, 2008) - Imperial Metals Corporation (TSX:III) reports the Federal Court of Appeal has set aside the earlier decision by the Federal Court Trial Division, and reconfirmed the Federal environmental assessment of the Red Chris project, which concluded the project is unlikely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The application of MiningWatch Canada for judicial review of the Federal environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act ("CEAA") was dismissed. Federal regulatory authorities are now authorized to issue regulatory approvals for the Red Chris project to proceed.

Appeals had been filed by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Attorney General of Canada, and by Red Chris Development Company Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Imperial Metals Corporation, in connection with the September 25, 2007 ruling of the Federal Court of Canada, which set aside the Federal screening report of bcMetals' Red Chris project issued in May 2006. At issue was the nature of the discretion of the responsible Federal authorities to scope a project under the CEAA.

The Red Chris project was subject to both Provincial and Federal environmental review. Based on the initial project description, Red Chris was first scoped for comprehensive study level review by the responsible Federal authorities. Following receipt by the responsible Federal authorities of additional project information, including the fact the project was undergoing a full Provincial environmental assessment, it was determined the Federal environmental assessment would proceed by way of a screening report. Accordingly, comprehensive environmental review of the Red Chris project was carried out by the Province under the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act, in full co-operation with the responsible Federal authorities. This was in keeping with efforts by Provincial and Federal environmental agencies and legislation aimed at harmonizing Federal and Provincial environmental review.

The Provincial review process covered the technical, environmental and socio-economic elements of the Red Chris project, and included consultation with the Tahltan First Nation and other local communities. Environmental assessment application documents were made available for public review at local libraries in Smithers, Terrace and Stewart, the government agent's office in Dease Lake, and band offices in Iskut and Telegraph Creek. Notices of the availability of these documents with the public comment period were advertised in the B.C. Gazette and local newspapers. The documents were also made available through the Provincial and Federal environmental assessment office websites. Open houses were conducted in Stewart, Iskut, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek, the four communities closest to the Red Chris project.

In July 2005 the Provincial environmental assessment report concluded the Red Chris project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. The Red Chris project subsequently received a Provincial Environmental Certificate. In April 2006 the responsible Federal authorities issued their screening report, which also concluded the project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The appeal essentially involved matters of statutory interpretation. The Court concluded the responsible Federal authorities have discretion to define and redefine the scope of a project for the purposes of tracking an environmental assessment as a screening under section 18 of CEAA or as a comprehensive review under section 21 of CEAA.

The Federal Court of Appeal noted in its decision that the conclusions of the scoping decision by the responsible Federal authorities were not challenged. This decision of the Federal Court of Appeal may be subject to further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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