After the second day of two week-long British Columbia Supreme Court cases involving Taseko Mines’ proposed New Prosperity mine, Brian Battison, Taseko’s corporate affairs vice-president, notes that what is at stake goes beyond the company and could have a broad provincial context.
Taseko has filed an injunction against individuals alleged to have impeded work at the mine site and is seeking an order to restrain them and others from unlawfully interfering with the company’s test pitting and drilling work, which was approved by the B.C. government in September.
At the same time, the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) has launched a court case against exploration approvals for the mine, alleging Crown officials breached their duties to consult and accommodate the Tsilhqot’in in regards to the government granting the approvals, and is seeking an injunction to stop Taseko from doing any work until after a judicial review is heard.
“Anybody can file a judiciary review against anyone having received permits authorized by the government, and if an injunction was granted, then no work granted under those permits could be completed until that judiciary review is heard,” Battison says, adding it could take many months if not a year or longer for the case to be settled.
That would represent a serious problem for all resource developers in the province, he adds.
Battison points out Taseko’s lawyers have presented the company’s arguments, but it’s hard to tell what arguments will grab the judge’s attention and what are the valid arguments to make.
“There is some debate going back and forth on what is really the scope of the issue here. Some argue it’s a large scope and others argue that no, this is just about permits and whether they are valid and should stand as valid until some other decisions comes along, if that other decision comes along.”
A Ministry of Energy and Mines spokesperson wouldn’t comment on cases that are in the courts or respond to Battison’s comments about the case having wider implications.
Monica Lamb-Yorski is a Williams Lake writer.