(Ottawa, November 1, 2013) MiningWatch welcomes the report of the federal review panel that examined Taseko Mines Ltd.’s proposed “New Prosperity” gold-copper mine. The project is a reconfiguration of one rejected in 2010 by then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice, based on the findings of a report with essentially the same conclusions as the latest report. The panel’s report was released late last night.
Both reports conclude that the project would have a range of significant negative effects and that Taseko had not proposed viable means of addressing these effects. The findings of the new report are not a surprise given that the latest proposal was a variation of the project reviewed in the previous assessment. At that time Taseko stated that the current proposal was more environmentally damaging than the one it was then presenting as its preferred option.
The adverse effects of the project identified by both review panels include impacts on Aboriginal rights and Aboriginal uses of the area, water quality, fish and fish habitat, and grizzly bears.
When the federal government rejected the first proposal, it noted that the company could reapply if it found ways to address the issues raised through the assessment process. The second panel report clearly indicates that the company has failed to meet this test.
“Given the consistency of the fundamental conclusions in the two reports there is no reason for the decision from the government to be different this time around,” stated Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. “A second and final rejection of this project would provide a clear message to industry about what responsible resource development means. Responsible resource development doesn’t mean pushing forward a project against the will of affected First Nations with a poorly conceived strategy to put a healthy lake on life support.”
Taseko’s plan to “save” Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) was a complex system of pumping and recirculation of water that failed to gain the confidence of government and other reviewers including one who estimated the lake would be dead within ten years.
Given the potential for negative impacts and the staunch opposition to the project from the Tŝilhqot’in and Secwepemc peoples, the Prosperity and New Prosperity projects have been a national priority for MiningWatch Canada. The non-profit organization participated in the review process and attended hearings of both the first and second panel reviews, submitting technical briefs on fish and fish habitat during the first review, and on the economic costs and benefits of the project in the second round. MiningWatch is now conducting a thorough review of the panel report and will continue to make the project a priority through the next 120 days as the federal government deliberates on the finding of the report.
Contact: Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, tel. (613) 298-4745.