Vancouver Island First Nation sues Catalyst Paper for $2.1 billion

Crofton Mill
Crofton Mill

Plus, Kelowna tech firm sells for $100 million and B.C. mining gets a break

Mill sued
The Chemainus-based Halalt First Nation is suing Catalyst Paper for $2.1 billion and calling for the closure of the company’s 59-year-old Crofton Mill. On Monday, Catalyst reported it had received two separate lawsuits from the Halalt, and denied the allegations in both claims. The company stated that it intends to “vigorously defend itself.”

The first claim alleges that Catalyst illegally trespassed on and caused damages to the Halalt’s asserted territories and fisheries resources through the operation of the Crofton Mill since 1957. The Halalt is trying to force Catalyst to close the Crofton Mill and is asking for approximately $2 billion in damages.

The second claim was filed jointly by the Halalt and two of its business partners, Sunvault Engergy Inc. and Aboriginal Power Corp. This claim alleges that Catalyst breached a confidentiality agreement by disclosing certain confidential information related to a proposed anaerobic digester facility. The plaintiffs are seeking approximately $100 million in damages from Catalyst and a permanent injunction barring Catalyst from constructing, owning or operating an anaerobic digester facility.

Catalyst Paper, based in Richmond, B.C., manufactures diverse printing papers including newsprint, directory and coated freesheet. It has five mills across North America and has an annual production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes. In 2015 and for nine years previously, Corporate Knights magazine named Catalyst one of Canada’s Best 50 Corporate Citizens.

Okanagan tech deal
A Kelowna tech company that won an Emmy award last year for work on a Taylor Swift video has been bought by a Hong Kong conglomerate for $100 million. Immersive Media, which also has offices in Vancouver, Wash.; Dallas; and Santa Monica, introduced the first 360-degree full digital camera system in 2004 and developed the world’s first viewer for 360-degree content that works over the web. The company was bought by Digital Domain, a special-effects giant that has worked on movies including Titanic, Benjamin Button and X-Men.

Immersive previously worked on a number of productions with Digital Domain, including Taylor Swift’s Blank Space video. Immersive creative director Ryan Whitehead won a technical Emmy in 2015 for his work on the video and an accompanying free application that makes the video interactive.

Help for mining
Premier Christy Clark is promising a measure of relief to the struggling B.C. mining industry in the form of deferred electricity bills. Clark made the announcement at the opening of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C.’s Roundup 2016 conference on Monday morning. She told the gathering of mining executives that the province is working on a plan to provide support to the beleaguered industry.

Power bill deferrals, which the premier noted is not a subsidy, was one of the items in a rescue package that the industry gave to Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett at the end of 2015. B.C. mining companies have faced a paralyzing downturn in commodity markets. Since 2011, venture capital for mining exploration has dried up, leading to job losses and stalled projects.  

Last week, the AME BC called for the provincial government to simplify its policies on land access and use, and released a report pointing to a shrinking supply of accessible land.