TNG: We weren’t consulted on new mine plan

The Tsilhqot’in Nation is calling on the federal and provincial governments to reject Taseko Mines Ltd.’s new Prosperity project.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation is calling on the federal and provincial governments to reject Taseko Mines Ltd.’s new Prosperity project.

This week Taseko submitted the project description for a revised mine to the federal government. However, it could be at least a year before the federal government reports back on its findings regarding the project.

The federal government denied the company’s original proposal in November 2010 noting that it would adversely impact fish and fish habitat, navigation and traditional use of the land and its resources by First Nations. However, the company now says due to high gold prices it can save Fish Lake rather than destroying it and building a new lake nearby, a provision under the old plan.

According to the company’s New Prosperity website it concludes, “New Prosperity retains all of its original designs from which ‘no adverse effects’ would result while directly addressing the concerns that emerged around the elimination of Fish Lake, which is no longer part of the development plan. It is for this reason that Taseko Mines Limited remains confident in a more favourable outcome to the 2011 federal government review process.”

The Tsilhqot’in Nation says to date there has been no consultation between themselves and the company regarding the new proposal.

“We got a copy of the plan only yesterday,” says Joe Alphonse, TNG Tribal chair and chief of Tl’etinqox (Anaham). “True consultation is a company coming into our territory and meeting with us and seeing first and foremost can we work together. If the answer is yes, then we sit down and try to develop a plan that is mutually beneficial to all interest groups. These guys (Taseko) haven’t done that. They developed a plan then they come in and tell you take this or leave it,” he says.

Brian Battison, vice-president of corporate affairs for Taseko Mines, disputes that, saying shortly after the federal government denied the project in November 2010 the company wrote to TNG requesting a meeting and to consult on a new plan.

“It was to talk to them about what the path forward might look like,” Battison says. Taseko, he says, was told the TNG was not interested.

He says there has been a number of other attempts to engage the Tsilhqot’in Nation but to no avail.

“So far they told us they’re not interested. But hopefully when they get a chance to look through that and understand what we’re trying to do there will be some interest and talking further with us. That’s our hope.”

According to Battison, after the project denial by the feds, the company wanted to discuss with TNG the three project options that might be possible moving forward.

“We wanted to explain to them that it was a possibility (one of the three projects). It could be an option and explain to them why,” he says, noting discussions would not have been limited and that the consultation “would thoroughly examine the various options.”

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