CEAA releases mine guidelines

Taseko Mines says the guidelines released by CEAA identify the nature, scope and extent of the information the company will have to address.

Taseko Mines Limited says the guidelines released by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) Friday identify the nature, scope and extent of the information the company will have to address in its environmental impact statement (EIS) for its New Prosperity gold-copper mine project.

“These are our instructions,” says Brian Battison, vice president of corporate affairs for Taseko Mines Ltd. “The government commitment was to focus the EIS on those aspects of the project that have changed, rather than re-examining components of the project that have not changed. These guidelines seem clear in this regard and are consistent with the minister’s commitment.”

Battison suggests the company hasn’t identified any surprises in the 74-page document.

“It’s what you’d expect of environmental assessment guidelines.”

Included in the guidelines are a requirement that the findings by the previous panel on the original project regarding significant adverse environmental effects on aboriginal rights and title, current use of the lands and resources for traditional purposes by First Nations and on cultural heritage resources be addressed.

Taseko will also be asked to document how it used scientific, engineering and community and aboriginal traditional knowledge to reach its conclusions. It is expected that the new components of the project and their interaction with those elements and features of the project that have not changed from the previous project proposal will be subject to additional technical studies and inventories. The next step, Battison says, will be to prepare the company’s response.

“The federal government made a commitment that it would have their work done in one year. The clock stops while we prepare our environmental impact statement and that is the subject of the environmental assessment, “ Battison says, adding when the environmental assessment takes place then people will have an opportunity to see what’s behind the company’s plan, the science behind it and how the company plans to do its work.

“It will take us some time to put that together,” he adds, saying it’s too early to tell how long that will take.

When asked to compare the size of New Prosperity to Gibraltar Mine, Battison explains while Gibraltar presently processes around 55,000 tonnes per day through its concentrator, New Prosperity would aim for 70,000 tonnes a day.

“It’s a bit larger, but the value is in the capital investment. It’s a billion dollars of investment in the province. That has a big benefit and value for the people in the province and the people that live here,” Battison says.

On a work-force level, however, Gibraltar with the expansion will grow to have 700 employees from its present 500, whereas New Prosperity would have around 500 employees, he notes.

Tsilhqot’in National Government chair Chief Joe Alphonse says the project has already been defeated once so the guidelines for the environmental assessment should be even tougher for the New Prosperity proposal.

“If the process doesn’t take a hard and tough look, then it (the process) will be viewed as a sham,” Alphonse says.

To see the full EIS document go to http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=54831.