Chiefs return from Prosperity lobby in Ottawa

Representatives from the Tsilhqot’in National Government were in Ottawa last week.

In advance of an expected Nov. 7 decision by the federal Environmental Assessment Agency on the New Prosperity Mine project, representatives from the Tsilhqot’in National Government were in Ottawa last week.

“We are making the rounds down on the pavement and meeting with different agencies and different groups and telling our side of the story,” said TNG chair Joe Alphonse from Ottawa last week.

Alphonse was accompanied by several other local First Nations leaders and was joined in the capital by Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and representatives from the B.C. Assembly of First Nations.

Alphonse said he was disappointed the group did not meet with members of the Conservative party. They did, however, meet with the NDP’s B.C. caucus, members of the Liberal party and the NDP’s mining and aboriginal affairs critics.

“I think it was important for us to come here,” Alphonse said. “We do have limited resources so we make the most of it when we’re here. I think it’s been worthwhile.”

On Nov. 7, CEAA will announce whether an environmental assessment is required for the project and what type of assessment it will be.

Taseko Mines Ltd. expects the agency will order a comprehensive study based on the mine’s throughput. A comprehensive assessment is described by CEAA as necessary for large projects having the potential for significant adverse environmental effects.

The projects may also generate public concerns.

Taseko recently released a study funded by the company and completed by The Centre for Spatial Economics that indicated that over its 20-year life, the mine could increase employment in the province by 71,000 jobs; increase federal government revenues by $4.3 billion; provincial government revenues by $5.5 billion; increase consumer spending by $9 billion; increase gross domestic product by $11 billion and cause the population of B.C. to increase by 5,400.

“I’m always impressed by what mining activity does for the country and for the province. It’s quite astonishing the value that is generated by mining operations particularly one of this significance to see the wealth that it creates for governments,” said Brian Battison, Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs.

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