Representatives of the Tsilhqot’in National Government will be in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria on Monday as they have filed an injunction against a recently issued drilling permit to Taseko Mines for its New Prosperity Mine project.
“We are bringing about 40 elders to Victoria on our chartered Williams Lake Stampeders bus,” said Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William from Abbotsford Friday.
The injunction is to protect areas like Nabas and Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), he told the Tribune.
Hopeful they will successfully stop the drilling, William said they have been preparing since February to go to court and have filed an affidavit with comments from community members as part of their argument.
“We have 30 years of history fighting for our Aboriginal rights and every time we’ve gone to court we’ve been successful,” William said.
However, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in a letter dated July 28, 2017 informed Taseko Mines Ltd. the proposed drilling activities are subject to prohibitions.
“Following a review of the British Columbia’s Revised Impacts Assessment (March 13, 2017) and British Columbia’s Reason for Decision (July 17, 2017) the agency is of the view that the proposed activities may cause an environmental effect pursuant to subsection 5(1) of CEAA 2012,” wrote Kristen Coverly, senior compliance enforcement officer with CEAA in the letter.
She reminded Taseko the proposed mine project was subject to an environmental assessment under CEAA 2012 and rejected in 2014.
Brian Battison, vice-president of corporate affairs did not return the Tribune’s request for an interview.
Mayor Walt Cobb of Williams Lake confirmed Friday he filed a document in favour of the New Prosperity Mine project.
“It included all the stats around job creation and verifying the employment it would create,” Cobb said, noting he filed it on behalf of city council.
Meanwhile, the Cariboo Regional District has not filed any documents related to the drilling permit, said the CRD’s communications manager Emily Epp in an e-mailed response Friday.
Earlier the Ministry of Energy and Mines said the permit to drill does not authorize Taseko to begin mining at the site.
Under permit, Taseko has requested to establish a camp of 50 people, do 321 trenches or test pits, 110 geotechnical drill holes, 53 kilometres of new exploration trails and 66 kilometers of access modification.
“Exploration activities must be done in a manner that minimize impacts and are reclaimed satisfactorily, be it the currently proposed project or any future large-scale mining project in this location,” a ministry spokesperson noted in an e-mailed response.
The permit includes 37 conditions to address TNG concerns raised during the consultation process ranging from specific environmental management plans to minimizing disturbance.
“There are also permit conditions that require Taseko to conduct cultural heritage assessments of areas proposed for mechanical disturbance prior to disturbance, engage in ongoing and timely updates with the TNG, and ensure that they give consideration to the TNG’s practice of Aboriginal rights,” the ministry spokesperson noted.