Prosperity revision attracts reaction

Taseko’s revised Prosperity mine proposal is not being welcomed with open arms by First Nations communities.

Taseko’s revised Prosperity mine proposal is not being welcomed with open arms by First Nations communities.When contacted, Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chair and Anaham Chief Joe Alphonse said he hadn’t seen the proposal. Taseko, he said, had recently attempted to meet with First Nations but, “in the letter they provided to us there wasn’t anything substantial. The attitude hadn’t changed from previous attempts Taseko’s made in the past and we felt it didn’t warrant us to sit down and meet with them.” At this point, Alphonse feels there is a general lack of respect from the company shown to First Nations. “It doesn’t matter what changes they’ve made,” he said of the new proposal, “We’re not interested, not by that group.”For the future Alphonse cautioned companies: “If you’re coming into the Chilcotin you’re going to work with us. If you choose to work against us I guarantee you’re not going to get anything approved.” In opposing the revised proposal, Friends of the Nemaiah Valley said in a press release Fish Lake wasn’t the only concern; the future of the area’s grizzly bears should also be a consideration.  “The destruction of grizzly bear habitat — the Chilcotin grizzly bear is blue listed — cannot be mitigated with a project on the scale of Prosperity mine.”The fact that the land in question is unceded by First Nations is also troubling, said the group. In contrast, Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook welcomed the proposal.“I’m very pleased that Taseko is moving ahead with this project,” she said in a press release.Cook expressed a hope that the provincial and federal governments could use much of the information that was provided in the plan’s original submission for assessment purposes and that could speed up the process. Cook also noted she hoped the proposal would address the concerns raised during the environmental assessment. “This project is very important to the economy of the City and the region and we want to see it proceed,” she said. Cariboo-Prince George MP Dick Harris expressed optimism about Taseko’s redesigned Prosperity plan and its submitted project description for consideration by the federal government.In a news release, he said he is ready to assist resolving any issues that may be outstanding between First Nations and Taseko, and invites First Nations leaders to contact him if they want his help.Harris said the new design greatly reduces environmental impacts and preserves Fish Lake and its adjacent habitat, while also enabling all mine operations and related components to be contained within one single watershed.“Of course I am happy to see that Taseko has taken up that option despite hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cost,” Harris said. “This project means future and long-lasting economic stability to the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, by creating thousands of jobs and adding billions to the economy over the life of the mine. “This project will also provide skills training and long lasting economic benefits for First Nations who live in the project area.”