The province’s Ministry of Energy and Mines has issued exploration permits for road building and drilling for the New Prosperity Mine.
Ministry staff confirmed the move Friday.
Vice-president of corporate affairs for Taseko, Brian Battison, said the company applied for the permits in May in order to gather information for the revised Prosperity project that may be required in the provincial and federal environmental assessment processes.
The permits pertain to on-site work required for engineering purposes and include permission to build “trails” to move equipment on the property as well as drilling and test pitting to obtain geotechnical information for the project’s new dam location.
Battison said the permits allow for 59 test pits, eight geotechnical drill holes and 10 diamond drill holes as well as 23.5 kilometres of trail.
In order to complete the work, the company was required to put up a reclamation bond of $75,000.
The last time the company embarked on similar-type work was in 2009.
Tsilqot’in National Government chair Joe Alphonse called the issuance of permits, “…drawing a line in the sand.” He added, “I think they want to know what’s going to happen and I think that’s a good way to find out.”
Alphonse said there is a general lack of faith in the provincial review process.
“Whatever process the province is coming up with it has already been pre-approved as far as we’re concerned,” he said.
“They are not going to say no to Prosperity.”
Alphonse wouldn’t provide any details on any response to the issuance of permits but said, “We’re here to look after the best interest of our communities. We’ll ask for court injunctions and whatever else. That’s a very sacred area up there and we can’t have people running around up there with logging machines. That’s the bottom line.”