Taseko plans to submit new mine proposal

Ever since the federal government turned down Taseko’s Prosperity mine project in November, there has been a sense that the book was not yet closed on the project.

  • Jan. 11, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Ever since the federal government turned down Taseko’s Prosperity mine project in November, there has been a sense that the book was not yet closed on the project.

Taseko Mines Ltd. recently confirmed that it intends to proceed with a revised proposal.

In a press release, company president Russell Hallbauer says, “Although we were extremely disappointed with the federal government’s decision on Prosperity, we accept that decision and we are working to address the concerns raised by the many levels of government involved. We expect to submit a revised proposal to federal authorities which should address the impact that the Prosperity mine would have on Fish Lake.”

Although there were no further details available at press time, and, in spite of the fact there are more questions than answers, project opponents and supporters offered their opinions.

“It would be interesting to see what they are planning. That’s good news,” says Walt Cobb, Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce president.

Cobb wondered what the process will look like considering the former proposal recently went through an extensive review both provincially and federally.

“Are they going to have to go through a whole entire environmental review process? Because to me that is ridiculous.”

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was also pleased with the news but too has questions.

“It’s good news for Prosperity and for the community,” she says. “It all depends on what kind of process they have to go through. None of us know.”

Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chair and Tl’etinqox (Anaham) chief Joe Alphonse was not receptive.

While the draining of Fish Lake was a major stumbling block in the first proposal, a larger issue now is the lack of respect Taseko has shown First Nations, he says.

“Fish Lake is part of the issue but a huge, huge part of the issue is you have to work with First Nations people in today’s day and age and if you’re not willing to do that, so be it. You’ve got a tough lesson.”

Alphonse insists Taseko has burned its bridges with First Nations communities.

“I’ve said this since day one: we’re not against development. But if you’re going to come at us with such disrespect, don’t expect to be operating in the Chilcotin. That’s our region, that’s our homeland and we’re there to protect and ensure that proper government and development is going to happen. There will be development at some point in time and that development has to be done with respect for the environment, respect for us as a people and we’ll move forward. Right now that’s not the case and that will never be the case with Taseko Mines.”

When the federal government rejected the initial proposal it said it considered the conclusions of the Federal Review Panel and agreed with the panel’s concerns about the environmental impact of the project.

“The project as proposed would result in the destruction of Fish Lake and, as a result, a complex and highly productive ecosystem that includes not only the lake but dozens of connecting streams, wetlands and aquatic life. There is significant risk that this cannot be successfully reproduced through man-made substitutes,” it said.

Since the proposal’s rejection there has been two new environment ministers. Peter Kent is the most recent appointee to the position.