The Tsilhqot’in Nation has launched a challenge in B.C. Supreme Court requesting the suspension of permits recently issued for the New Prosperity Mine project by the province’s Ministry of Energy and Mines.
According to a release, the petition alleges the Crown breached its duties to consult and accommodate the Tsilhqot’in. It further states that the Tsilhqot’in Nation was not given notice of the ministry’s approvals granted for drilling and road construction purposes.
The permits are for 23.5 kilometres of trail building and the drilling of 59 test pits, eight geotechnical drill holes and 10 diamond drill holes that are intended to facilitate Taseko Mines’ collection of data in advance of the provincial and federal environmental assessments, according to the company.
Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chair Joe Alphonse could not be reached for comment but in a release said, “We’re talking about serious impacts for our rights and our culture …. We’ve gone to court before, we’ve stood in front of the federal panel, we have proven over and over how important these lands are to our people and our culture — but the province never seems to get the message.”
Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison told the Tribune that consultation is the responsibility of the Crown.
He said the permits in question are valid until they are set aside and indicated the company intends to go ahead with the work to gather data for the federal and provincial environmental review processes currently underway.
“We have the lawful, legal authority to do the work and we need to do the work so that’s what we intend to do,” he said.
Officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mines did not return calls on this matter by press time.
Last week the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced it would proceed with a panel review of the New Prosperity mine proposal. That review is expected to take 12 months.