Areva Resources Canada Inc. v. Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources

(Saskatchewan) (Civil) (By Leave)


Administrative law - Judicial review, Standard of review, Legislation, Interpretation.


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Administrative law — Judicial review — Non-adjudicative decision-makers — Standard of review — Legislation — Interpretation — What is the appropriate standard of review analysis in the context of non-adjudicative decision-makers — What is the appropriate approach to the interpretation of a royalty provision such as s. 27(3)(a)?

Areva, a uranium exploration, mining and milling company with substantial uranium assets in Saskatchewan, must pay yearly royalties on its sales of uranium to the Crown. The Ministry audited Areva’s annual uranium royalty return for 2006-2009. As Areva did not provide supporting information on the non-arm’s length sales, the Ministry determined the royalty according to s. 27(3)(1) of The Crown Mineral Royalty Schedule, 1986, S.R. 30/86. Subject to exceptions that do not apply here, it provides that “the fair market value for a sale of uranium that is not at arm’s length is deemed to be... the average sale price of all arm’s length sales of uranium from that pooled inventory in the current royalty year”. The Ministry calculated the average sales price by determining the total revenue for the uranium sold and dividing the total by the number of pounds sold. Areva sought judicial review arguing that the average sale price should have been calculated by adding the price per pound in each sale and dividing by the number of sales made.

On judicial review, it was ordered that the decisions of the Ministry be set aside and the matter be remitted to the Ministry for calculation in accordance with the correct approach, but no order of mandamus was made. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal, reinstated the decision of the Ministry, and dismissed the cross-appeal.