Taseko Mines Ltd. and the Tsilhqot’in Nation are heading back to court.
On Friday, July 5, Taseko Mines Ltd. filed a notice of civil claim and an application for an injunction after the Tshilqot’in Nation blocked the company’s contractors from hauling equipment to do exploratory drilling for its proposed New Prosperity Mine project 185 km southwest of Williams Lake.
On Tuesday, July 2, a flatbed truck with equipment was turned away at around 6 a.m. from travelling on the Farwell Canyon Road off Highway 20.
The hearing date is set for Tuesday, July 16.
Additionally, the Tsilhqot’in National Government has given notice it will renew the Notice of Civil Claim originally filed in 2017, for a full trial of the issues, to establish that the drilling program is an unjustified infringement of proven Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal rights, noted Graham Gillies with TNG communications on Monday.
TNG also gave notice that it will be seeking its own injunction prohibiting TML from proceeding with the work until this rights infringement action is heard and determined, Gillies added, noting this injunction hearing is expected to be set down for the last week of July.
Taseko vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison told the Tribune when access to a public road has been illegally blocked, one of the potential solutions is to seek an injunction from the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” Battison said. “Today we have instructed our legal counsel to apply for an injunction to permit us to access our property so the work can be done.”
Speaking from his home at Tl’etinqox First Nation Friday, Chief Alphonse said the Tsilhqot’in will challenge the injunction in court.
“It’s not the first time we’re going to court against Taseko,” he added. “It’s part of the process.”
Alphonse said it will be “virtually” impossible for the mine to ever go through so the exploratory drilling should not happen.
“The reality is if you go through the whole government process, that it’s near impossible for this mine to come to fruition so why are we doing the project?” He said.
“People think the mine has been approved — it has not. There are so many obstacles they would have to go through, even if the Tsilhqot’in were to support them, which we don’t. In the meantime they plan on wreaking havoc in an area that is sensitive to the Tsilhqot’in.”
Five years ago the Tsilhqot’in won an historical case in the Supreme Court of Canada that proved they had rights and title.
“What does having Aboriginal rights and title mean if you cannot have any level of jurisdiction over your territory?” Alphonse said.
“We have to protect our interests. A company like Taseko has to realize this mine will never be. They talk about the amount of financial resources they have spent on this, well sooner or later they are going to have cut their losses. We are not changing our position after 25 years.”