It was astonishing to hear Joe Alphonse in the media threatening to interrupt work at the Gibraltar Mine and interfere in the lives of its 700 workers in order to extract money from Taseko.
The truth is important and here are the facts: Mr. Alphonse was instrumental in stopping the $1.5 billion New Prosperity gold-copper project and thus denying the people of the Cariboo and B.C. a future that would have included thousands of new jobs and billions in new revenues for taxpayers.
Not satisfied, he now wants money from Taseko and is telling untrue stories and using threats to force an agreement between Gibraltar and the Esdilagh First Nation so he can get what he wants.
There is no obligation, legal or otherwise, for our company to pay Mr. Alphonse any money for anything. An agreement is not required to create value for people.
Over the past five years we have worked with the Esdilagh First Nation, a small band with an on-reserve population of about 50 people, to create personal and community benefits.
We have hired their members, contracted with the band for services, provided education and training opportunities and, in doing so, helped create individual success stories.
All of this has been done without any formal agreement.
When there is a desire to work together for mutual gain, there is no limit to what can be accomplished between two parties. We see that in our relationship with the Williams Lake Indian Band. The relationship is based on the concept of mutual benefit, on the genuine desire to help each other and that is exactly what is happening. It works. There is no reason why this same two-way spirit of co-operation cannot be duplicated with others.
Through our work and investment, Taseko creates employment and business opportunities in the Cariboo.
What Mr. Alphonse is trying to do, with some success, is stop those positive things from happening. What kind of leadership is that?
The future rewards those who step towards it.
New Prosperity represents a chance for everyone to share fully in the mineral wealth of the region and in the prospect of a brighter future. Gibraltar is already providing this for the Cariboo Region.
Now is the time for local First Nation people and their leaders to step forward, take hold of the future and to make sure this opportunity of New Prosperity becomes a reality for themselves, their communities and for others.
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Taseko Mines Limited