B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Grauer has granted a 90-day injunction stopping Taseko Mines Ltd. from carrying out any further exploratory work for the New Prosperity mine, pending the outcome of a judicial review of work permits that were issued to the company.
Speaking in Williams Lake after hearing about the decision, Tsi Del Del Chief Percy Guichon said the B.C. government will now have to sit down with the Tsilhqot’in and work out a better consultation process regarding any exploration activities Taseko will undertake.
“We’ll be a part of the process, whether it’s the minimum required exploration work that will have to be done through the environmental assessment process. We’ll be fully involved with that process.”
The Tsilhqot’in National Government alleges that Crown officials breached their duties to consult and accommodate the Tsilhqot’in in regards to the government granting exploration and drilling approvals, and sought an injunction to stop Taseko from doing any work until after a judicial review is heard.
Taskeo had also filed an injunction — against individuals alleged to have impeded work at the mine site and sought an order to restrain them and others from unlawfully interfering with the company’s test pitting and drilling work that was approved by the B.C. government in September.
A media spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources stated Monday “the adequacy of the First Nations consultation on the Mines Act authorization was not considered by the court — that is a matter for the upcoming judicial review,” and said the court registry has been asked to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.
Tsilhqot’in tribal chair Joe Alphonse said the ruling will set the tone for industry and the provincial government when dealing with First Nations.
“We have already soundly defeated this mine proposal once, and the option now being pursued has already been declared worse than the original plan. We are frustrated to be faced with an Environmental Assessment again but we need to be adequately engaged to assist with the determination of what is exactly necessary with the least amount of disturbance for this process,” Alphonse said.
Taseko vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison said Friday afternoon the ruling wasn’t entirely unexpected.
“Matters of reconciliation and consultation can at times be complicated. And because of that, the delays that may be associated with that are the cost of doing business in British Columbia. The judge talked about that. No one likes delay, but we hope the Crown and the First Nations will sit down and address the consultation matters,” he said.
Once the outcome is determined, Battison hopes Taseko can pursue the exploratory work.
Battison also said the conduct of the individuals obstructing Taseko was ruled illegal and the company has been awarded costs payable immediately.
However, he also insisted when there’s matters of difference of opinion, it’s important that the parties involved communicate and sit down with each other to resolve them.
“This project is too important for the Cariboo, the communities of the Cariboo, and for First Nations — everyone — not to do their best work.”
A written statement from Justice Christopher Grauer is expected to be issued some time later this week.