Taseko Mines Ltd. cries foul on seepage study

Taseko Mines Ltd. questions the validity of the panel report's estimated seepage rates from the tailings pond for the New Prosperity Mine.

Taseko Mines Ltd. is questioning the validity of the environmental panel report when it comes to estimating seepage rates from the tailings pond for the New Prosperity Mine.

“We found out about this on Monday when Knight Piesfold, our lead engineering company, brought it to our attention,” said Brian Battison, Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs.  “We felt we had an obligation to make it public.”

It’s clear, Battison said, that Natural Resources Canada relied on the wrong design in its analysis.

“Maybe they made up their own or chose their own design. The panel relied on this wrong information and came to some conclusions,” Battison said. “It calls into question the validity of the panel’s findings on significant adverse environmental effects of fish and fish habitat.”

Reacting from Ottawa Thursday morning, Tsilhqot’in National Government chair Chief Joe Alphonse described Taseko’s actions as a “very desperate” move.

“This isn’t elementary school, these are all professional, highly regarded respected individuals,” Alphonse said of the panel.

“If it was that blatant of a flaw then why didn’t they as a company point that out during the time the environmental panel review was going on and happening.”

Alphonse said he doesn’t buy the company’s claims.

“How many times does a company have to be disrespectful before they are considered respectful? I am embarrassed for this company.”

A spokesperson for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said Wednesday the agency will not comment on the panel report.

“The minister will make a decision about the project in accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012,” said Lucille Jamault, CEAA communications manager in an e-mailed response.

“Should the minister decide that the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, the federal cabinet would make a decision on whether or not the significant effects would be justified in the circumstances.”

Battison said Taseko has notified Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Environment, the company plans to file legal action and request that she receive and consider additional information prior to making any determination.

“That submission is expected in the next few weeks,” Battison said.


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