Alphonse: Taseko invested for themselves

Tsilhqot’in Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse has rejected the assertion made in a recent press release by the proponent of Prosperity Mine that the company, Taseko Mines Ltd., has invested more than $1 million in support of Tsilhqot’in Nation’s pursuit of third-party evaluations throughout Prosperity mine’s history.

Tsilhqot’in Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse has rejected the assertion made in a recent press release by the proponent of Prosperity Mine that the company, Taseko Mines Ltd., has invested more than $1 million in support of Tsilhqot’in Nation’s pursuit of third-party evaluations throughout Prosperity mine’s history.

Russ Hallbauer, Taseko’s chief electoral officer, released a statement in response to Premier Christy Clark’s statement during her address to the First Nations Summit last week that: “Resource and industrial development and jobs take partnership, and I believe that the inclusion of First Nations at the outset of significant projects isn’t just advisable, it is good business, as I told the Business Council when I met with them just this week.

“Two current examples are the work with the Squamish Nation and Canada to facilitate a multibillion-dollar residential and commercial development on reserve land, and the economic development agreement to share tax royalties from the New Afton mine.

“Those partnerships will bring, I think, significant benefits, as I said, not just to the local First Nations community but to the entire community at large, making families healthier.”

In response, Hallbauer said the company had taken steps to “open and honest communication”  by investing more than $1 million in support of Tsilhqot’in Nation’s pursuit of third-party evaluations.

In reaction, Alphonse suggested the proponent’s motivation is a factor in determining “support” saying, “… they didn’t do this on our behalf; they did it on their own behalf. They did it as a requirement to meet their own goal.”

Alphonse was adamant that if the company was acting in support of First Nations it would allow them to administer the funds and employ their own experts.

“If they’re doing it on our behalf they’d come to us and say, ‘You have fish concerns.

“How much money do you think you need to do all the studies you think you need to give you confidence.’ Then they can turn around and say they’ve spent $1 million on behalf of the Tsilhqot’in Nation. But when they turn around and hire their biologists, their scientists and they administer those dollars then those are not Tsilhqot’in dollars. That’s what happened this last time and what happened in the 90s.”