Taseko Mines Ltd.’s application to combine two judicial reviews into one motion seeking financial damages from the federal government was denied by a federal court on May 11.
The procedural motion is relating to the federal government’s most recent rejection of the company’s New Prosperity Mine, a billion-dollar, gold-copper project proposed in the Chilcotin Plateau west of 100 Mile House.
The court ruled that two judicial reviews sought by Taseko Mines will proceed.
New Prosperity has been a contentious project for a number of years, facing serious opposition by First Nations in the area. The project was rejected by the federal government in February after a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) panel cited negative impacts on First Nations and environmental risks.
Taseko alleges government officials relied on false information in coming to its decision, while engaging in misfeasance in public office when they met privately with project opponents before key decisions were announced.
“The federal panel failed in their duty to deliver a fair process,” says Brian Battison, Taseko Mines vice-president of corporate affairs. “We will continue to rectify this situation in a court of law.”
The company will look at considering other options to pursue fiscal damages, Battison adds.
“Our aim remains unchanged. Our aim is to secure the necessary authorization to build this mine in the Cariboo.”
In January, British Columbia Environment Minister Mary Polak granted Taseko Mines a five-year extension of the Environmental Assessment Certificate for the mine, proposed in a remote area near Fish Lake.
“There are billions of dollars of investment opportunities in play here and the potential of thousands of new jobs in a region of B.C. that could use them,” says Battison.
New Prosperity has support from a number of Cariboo communities.
A Tsilhqot’in National Government spokesperson says the recent decision to proceed by way of judicial review, rather than the much lengthier trial process, means that a resolution of Taseko’s allegations will come sooner.
“This was the right decision,” says Chief Roger William, Chief of Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government.
“We’re looking forward to getting this matter to court so that we can put an end to Taseko Mines’ allegations once and for all. The protection of our sacred sites comes first and foremost to the people of Xeni Gwet’in. We will stand our ground with integrity and honesty in this fight against unsound mining plans and practices.”