Withdrawing permission for Taseko’s New Prosperity Mine project and exploratory drilling is the only way to preserve local culture and the environment
VANCOUVER — The B.C. government should reject Taseko Mines Ltd.’s proposed New Prosperity gold-copper mine and cancel all associated exploration permits. The federal government has already rejected this project twice and the local Tŝilhqot’in First Nation opposes it. Environmental experts say the project poses a threat to Fish Lake, which is sacred to the Tŝilhqot’in First Nation.
Taseko claims its intensive drilling program, which it expects to commence soon, is an attempt to prove the mine will not harm Fish Lake (Teztan Biny). However, during the 2010 federal environmental review, the company’s engineers stated the opposite: “It is not possible to preserve Fish Lake as a viable and functioning ecosystem while at the same time maximizing the full potential of the defined resource.” The company has not addressed how it can reconcile these conflicting statements.
“Millions of taxpayers’ dollars and thousands of hours of valuable time have been devoted to these environmental reviews by professionals and laypersons alike only to have the B.C. government stubbornly stand by the company and its mine proposal,” David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy adviser John Werring said. “Given the consistency of the findings of the two federal reviews and the statements made by the company’s own engineers, there is no logical reason for the provincial government to consider allowing this project to proceed.”
The B.C. government initially approved this project under the name of the Prosperity Gold Copper project in 2010 at about the same time that a federal environmental review panel recommended that it should not go ahead.
Then federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice told Taseko Mines the federal government could not accept the project as proposed. He suggested the company go back to the drawing board and come up with a proposal that addressed the issues raised by the first review. Taseko came back with a new proposal (The New Prosperity Gold-Copper project), which was merely a modification of the same project brought forward in 2010. The federal government again rejected it in 2014.
Meanwhile, the B.C. government has quietly maintained its 2010 approval of the original proposal. This has allowed Taseko Mines to push the project forward despite it being rejected by the federal government and strongly opposed by the local Tŝilhqot’in National Government. Ignoring the First Nation and federal governments, the province issued a permit that would allow Taseko to undertake destructive activities in the area. Issued in 2017, the permit will allow Taseko to build 76 kilometres of new roads, drill 122 bore holes, excavate 367 test pits, cut 20 kilometres of seismic lines and install a 50-person work camp near Fish Lake.
“Final rejection of this project would provide a clear message to industry about what responsible resource development means. It does not mean pushing forward with an ill-conceived project against the will of the people and First Nations, against the advice of experts and in a manner that fails to respect the environment,” Werring said.
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The David Suzuki Foundation (davidsuzuki.org) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.