Around 100 people attended the open house hosted by Taseko Mines Ltd. on Monday afternoon at the Gibraltar Room.
Taseko’s vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison shared two short video presentations on the New Prosperity and Gibraltar Mine projects, and then invited the public to speak one on one with staff members of Taseko.
Before Battison began his presentation, half a dozen local First Nations gathered inside the entrance way to drum and sing a traditional song.
Once the song was completed, they came into the room to listen to the presentation.
During his short presentation, Battison said the mine presents an economical impact that will last for 22 years.
“This investment, along with the benefit that will flow from it, can be accomplished without significant risk to the environment and with the very highest standards of mine development being practiced in the world,” Battison said, adding he hopes the project will receive the approval it deserves.
After the presentation, Glenn Lambe and John Massell both said even though it won’t affect them, they hope the mine goes through for the region’s economy.
On the other hand, Tl’esqox Chief Francis Laceese said he didn’t hear his concerns alleviated in the presentation — predominantly he’s worried about high winds at the proposed mine site that will blow tailings dust around the area that will impact terrain and local wildlife.
Taseko’s environmental technician Ashley Overton worked for seven years at Gibraltar, before working on the New Prosperity project, and confirmed wind has been a big factor at Gibraltar.
“There is a real dust problem there,” she said.
At New Prosperity she said they will have to do early mitigation work, such as grass seeding right away.
Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in said he still does not believe that Fish Lake can be saved.
“In 2008 they were talking about a 13-year addition. There’s a 20-year plan and then there’s a 13-year addition that will have to go under Fish Lake. The deposit does not go under the lake, but to get down there they will have to go out closer toward the lake,” William said. A proper environmental assessment would look at the 33-year mine, he added, suggesting the present project proposal does not present the full picture.
“Our people are saying once you get in, five years, 10 years into the mine, then you’re going to think about the 13-year addition and then you might have an easier argument to destroy the lake. In my mind that lake is going to have to be destroyed; that’s the only way they could do it,” William said.
Responding, Battison said the present proposal is for a 20-year mine and an open pit that will eventually extend to within 500 metres of the lake.
If the mine were to go to 33 years, the pit would extend to the lake, Battison said, but insisted “this proposal is for 20 years.”
Overton added if Taseko wanted to extend the mine beyond 20 years, it would have to go through another environmental assessment.
A second open house was held in the evening and then moves on to 100 Mile House today (Tuesday).