Feds lobbied to green-light New Prosperity

Donna Barnett advocates Bill Bennett's Ottawa appeal

Bill Bennett, the province’s Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review, met with various federal ministers in Ottawa on Jan. 13.

He went to the nation’s capital to discuss the New Prosperity Gold-Copper Project, and encourage them to recognize the strong economic and social benefits the proposed mine would create for Cariboo-Chilcotin communities.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, who also supports the project, says she is “very pleased” Bennett approached his federal colleagues in Ottawa.

“He’s been a very strong advocate to move the mine forward.”

Barnett adds a rally held for Bennett in Vancouver before he left, which she attended, was a demonstration of the strong support for the project in British Columbia.

“It was to show the importance of and the support for investment in resource industries in British Columbia – for good, safe, environmentally friendly resource development … First Nations consultations [and] revenue sharing.”

Bennett sat down with several federal ministers, including Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, Labour Minister Kellie Leitch and Industry Minister James Moore.

He pointed out the $1-billion project would provide 500 full-time jobs in the Cariboo region, and cited B.C.’s “proven track record” of mitigating environmental impacts.

He also met with the Colin Carrie, parliamentary secretary to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq because she isn’t discussing the project prior to her decision, due in late February.

Bennett told media this was also the case in all of his meetings, so he did not come away with any indication of his level of success.

Aglukkaq is considering the results of the recent federal environmental review, although the proposal requires the eventual approval of both the federal and provincial governments to proceed.

Barnett notes it’s now a waiting game until that final word from Aglukkaq, the federal cabinet ministers, and then the province, come down.

However, she encourages all those who support the project to indicate it in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper because, she says, those is opposition always ensure they get their message through.

That can be done online at www.pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm or at the address indicated on that webpage.

Barnett says she would like to see the review panel’s 29 recommendations handled in the provincial permitting stage because they all have to do with environmental standards.

“I would like to hear them say, yes, and move it forward to the provincial government to say, yes, again and to move forward to the permitting process.”

Meanwhile, the project proponent is disputing the review panel findings. Barnett notes Taskeo Mines Ltd. indicated in November the wrong tailings pond design was used in the panel’s analysis.

“They looked at the wrong plan, apparently.

“There are all these questions out there, so let’s move forward. Let’s put the concerns into the permitting process and let’s get on with it before it’s too late for development in British Columbia – investors will be leaving.”