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Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot'in Fight for Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)

"It is not possible for us to agree to the destruction of the land that sustains us." ~ Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Xeni Gwet'in First Nation.

Proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine

Taseko Mines Ltd. is proposing to construct an open-pit copper and gold mine in the heart of Tsilhqot’in Territory, 125 km. west of Williams Lake BC.

If the project were to proceed it would:

  • drain the beautiful, culturally important and rainbow trout-filled Teztan Biny (Fish Lake);
  • elimate cultural sites dating to at least 5,500 years ago;
  • create an open pit 500 m deep and 1600 m in diameter;
  • create 480 million tonnes of tailings and 328 million tons of waste rock;
  • deposit waste in the Upper Fish Creek watershed eliminating the creek, Little Fish Lake and terrestrial habitat for grizzly bears;
  • create a reservoir adjacent to the tailings impoundment in order to compensate for the permanent loss of fish habitat;
  • put a permanent environmental liability in the headwaters of the Fish Creek, a tributary of the Taseko and Fraser Rivers;
  • create up to 33 years of employment and economic development for the region;

The project is has undergone a federal panel review - the most rigorous form of environmental assessment in Canada. The panel's findings will be released at the end of June 2010 with the final decision being left to the federal cabinet. A less rigorous provincial environmental assessment found that the project would have significant environmental effects but that these could be justified due to the economic benefits of the project. The BC process did not include the participation of the First Nations, provide participant funding to allow independent experts to review the proponents findings, nor did it include hearings through which the First Nations, general public and independent experts could question the proponent and government agencies responsible for authorising the project.

MiningWatch has a number of concerns regarding the project including:

  • The unanimous opposition to the project, and in particular to the destruction of Teztan Biny, from local First Nations, and the BC Council of Indian Chiefs is not being respected;
  • The permanent destruction of productive aquatic ecosystems;
  • Social impacts on most vulnerable populations have not been considered in the assessment of social impacts;
  • A poorly conceived habitat compensation plan is being proposed;
  • Worrying gaps in the data used to develop the water balance;
  • Long-term risks to the environment and especially to important aquatic habitats downstream.

MiningWatch Submissions

Review of Alternatives Assessment

Review of Social Impact Assessment (Executive Summary)

Review of Aquatic Impact Assessment

Supplemental Submission for Fisheries Technical Hearing

Presentations

Presentation to general hearings March 25

Presentation to Fisheries Hearing April 28

Presentation to Socio-economic Hearing (by Joan Kuyek) April 29

Closing comments May 1 (From hearing transcripts)

Links

BC Environmental Assessment Office

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Friends of the Nemiah Valley

Land Keepers

Raven Trust's Prosperity Project Page

Stratus Hydrology Report

Taseko Mines Ltd.

Tsilhqot'in National Government