(Ottawa) Taseko Mines Ltd. has rebranded and resubmitted one of Canada’s most problematic mining projects as the “New Prosperity” mine. In November of last year the federal government denied approval for an earlier version of the project following a rigorous review, the results of which former federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice called “scathing”.
On its flashy new website, Taseko claims that it has addressed all of the issues raised by the review panel and that it continues to work collaboratively with the First Nations on whose traditional territory the massive open pit operation would be located. Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, commented, “These claims are more PR fiction than reality and represent a gross misrepresentation of the federal review panel’s findings — and of Taseko’s toxic relationship with First Nations.”
The Federal Review Panel found that the earlier proposal (the latest to fail to get approval) would have significant adverse effects on several inter-related issues:
- Use of lands and resources by the Tsilhqot'in Nation;
- The rights and title of the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc Nations;
- Fish and fish habitat;
- Navigation and the use of Fish Lake for food and recreational fisheries;
- A threatened grizzly bear population;
- Loss of grazing areas and a trap line;
- The operations of a local outfitting operation.
Recent communications from Taseko have only listed three of these areas of significant adverse effects: use of resources, fish and fish habitat, and navigation.
The “New Prosperity” project differs from the previous submission in one substantive way – Fish Lake will not be drained. The lake will, however, be situated within an industrial mining site inaccessible to other users for the life of the mine and will remain, forever, immediately downstream of a massive tailings impoundment. The lake’s cultural and ecological values will not be “saved” by this proposal and none of the other significant adverse affects identified by the Review Panel have been resolved by the “New Prosperity” proposal.
MiningWatch Canada was actively involved in the Federal Review Panel, submitting technical briefs and participating the hearings. “There are examples of positive collaboration between the mining industry and First Nations,” said Hart, “ but this project — and this company — have gotten it all wrong. I see no way that this project can move forward and meaningfully address the fundamental problems in the old or the new versions of the project. This resubmission is wasting government resources, threatening Taseko’s investors, and further damaging the relationships and reputation of the mining industry in British Columbia. The federal government should nip this in the bud and reject the proposal based on the findings of the previous review.”
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Contact Ramsey Hart, MiningWatch Canada, office (613) 569-3439, cell (613) 298-4745