Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) Spared: Federal Government Acknowledges Negative Effects of Controversial Mine and Upholds Responsibility to First Nations

(Ottawa) The federal government announced yesterday that it would not approve Taseko Mines’ proposed open pit gold-copper mine in the traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, 125 kilometres west of Williams Lake, B.C.

Following extensive review and consultations an independent review panel appointed by the federal government found that the proposed “Prosperity” mine would have significant negative effects on the Tshilqot’in Nation and on the environment, in particular on fish and grizzly bear habitat. One of the most controversial aspects of the proposal was the destruction of Fish Lake, Little Fish Lake and Fish Creek for the mine’s waste disposal areas. The panel saw no way for the company to effectively address these impacts.

MiningWatch Canada was an active participant in the review process and submitted several written briefs, made oral presentations, and questioned other presenters during the public hearings. “We were very pleased to see many of our concerns about this project reflected in the Panel Report,” commented Ramsey Hart, who led the group’s analysis of the project. “We are even more pleased to see the government respect those findings and reject the project. Looking ahead, this decision will help establish the limits to acceptable practice for mine proponents.”

The federal government’s decision is in line with two other environmental panel reviews in 2007 and with federal policies on the protection of fish habitat, species at risk, and sustainable development. It also reflects international and Canadian constitutional requirements regarding the rights of First Nations.

The Federal decision is contrary to the British Columbia government’s approval and support for the project. Accepting the federal decision will, however, allow the province to avoid a challenging confrontation with the First Nations that have vowed to stop the mine.

The Government attempted to soften the announcement for industry and the BC government by re-announcing the approval of Thompson Creek Metals’ Mt. Milligan open pit gold-copper mine in central BC. This project was approved in December 2009 after undergoing a Federal “comprehensive study” environmental assessment but remains controversial and is strongly opposed by the Nak’adzli First Nation. Nak’adzli has filed an application to the Federal Court of Canada requesting a judicial review of federal decisions to permit the project to proceed.


Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada tel. (613) 614-9937, ramsey(at)miningwatch.ca

See also:

Our page on the proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine
Official Announcement "Government of Canada Announces Decisions on Mount Milligan and Prosperity Gold-Copper Mines"