- Our Town
Minister Bennett disregards panel findings
I am writing in response to an article in the January 24 issue of the Williams Lake Tribune; “Bennett pushes for New Prosperity Mine.”
In this article BC Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett is quoted as saying, “What’s being proposed in New Prosperity is not out of the norm. It’s an open pit copper/gold mine that is actually very similar to open pit copper/gold mines that we already have….”
If all open pit copper/gold mining proposals are the same then there was a lot of effort wasted in the environmental review process. Two independent federal environmental review panels and the provincial environmental assessment process all reached the conclusion that there were problems with this mining proposal. If Mr. Bennett really doesn’t understand what is different about the New Prosperity proposal, he should ask his staff for an explanation.
The BC Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) participated in the latest federal environmental assessment process by reviewing the Environmental Impact Statement and supplemental information submitted by Taseko, and providing written comments to the panel. The following quotes are from a six-page memo, dated July 29, 2013, signed by the Manager of Environmental Geoscience and Permitting and the Senior Environmental Geoscientist:
“MEM concludes that it is unlikely that the project can be developed as currently designed without adverse effects to the water quality of Fish Lake and its tributaries from TSF seepage. Even with expensive and long-term measures to mitigate TSF seepage, the protection of Fish Lake water quality may not be assured.
MEM expects that the amount of financial security that could be required to fund this scale of long term liability would be very high and are likely unprecedented in the province.”
I can only speculate on what political pressure the authors of this memo may have experienced but the immediate response from Taseko’s lawyer is part of the public record. On Aug. 6, 2013, MEM submitted a letter of “clarification,” addressed to the panel and Taseko’s lawyer. The Aug. 6, letter doesn’t substantially alter their overall conclusion and I feel the original memo likely more accurately reflects the unfettered professional judgment of senior Ministry of Energy and Mines staff.
All of these documents are available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s website so anyone that is interested can read them and judge for themselves.