The final stage of the EA process is the Minister of Environment and Minister of Energy and Mines’s decision on whether to approve the project. 379 If the project is approved, it is issued an EA Certificate.380 No other approvals, including mine permits, can be issued until the EA Certificate is issued.381 Similarly, no construction, operation, modification, dismantling or abandonment of a facility (like a mine) can start until the EA Certificate is issued.382 Once issued, however, the EA Certificate remains in effect for the life of the project.383
The Ministers will grant the project EA approval if it they determine that it will not pose adverse effects, that cannot be mitigated. At the time of writing, only two mining projects have ever been denied an EA Certificate in BC (although projects are regularly withdrawn or terminated).
One such refusal was the proposed Morrison Lake Mine in northern BC, which was denied an EA Certificate in October 2012. Although the EAO concluded that any adverse effects could be mitigated, the ministers, following the recommendations of the EAO Executive Director, denied the certificate.384