Taseko Mines’ review request wrangled

Differing opinion voices persist on New Prosperity

Split reactions continue to resound locally over the New Prosperity Gold-Copper Project after Taseko Mines Ltd. filed for a second judicial review recently.

The mining company is pursuing court intervention to overturn the federal government’s rejection of its proposed mine.

New Prosperity Mine supporter Nick Christianson says he is happy Taseko is continuing its fight to see the mine come to fruition.

“They definitely felt that they were not dealt with fairly, and this was their only recourse.

“I hope they carry on until they get a resolution through the courts, and I hope the mine goes ahead.”

The 108 Mile Ranch businessman adds he is pleased Taseko is not going to abandon the project and the people of the Cariboo who worked hard for it “just because it hit a couple of bumps.”

Taseko alleges the Conservative government made its decision knowing full well that the panel used an incorrect design for the tailing pond liner, which was highlighted before and during the first judicial review still underway, Christianson notes.

“I know, until this court case is finished, it certainly isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. The decision was wrong – and it was flawed to begin with.”

Taseko president and CEO Russell Hallbauer says the federal environmental review was also not a fair and open process. Government met with opponents after the panel review, but didn’t let Taseko know what was discussed, or give the mining company a chance to respond, he explains.

Meanwhile, Friends of Fish Lake representative Patricia Spencer says it is the mining proposal that is “flawed,” and her group is disappointed that Taseko is continuing to try to save it.

“The company now seems to be grasping at straws in an attempt to keep the project afloat.”

The mine was rejected twice – and on the recommendation of two different panels – for “good reasons” relating to both environment and First Nations, she adds.

“Taseko should have listened to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans [DFO] in 1995 when it told the company to forget this project.”

Spencer notes while Taseko claims the Canadian Environmental Review process wasn’t fair, it seems to be complaining that mine opponents met with government officials and agencies, yet the company and its supporters did “much more lobbying than anyone else.”

Says Friends of Fish Lake member Maddi Newman: “This could be the ‘pot calling the kettle black,’ as Taseko officials also had trips and meetings with politicians.

“The corporate dollars to keep pressing this issue far exceed any monies the opponents have had access to in order to have our voices heard.”

Spencer says Taseko Mines should have accepted the rejection of its mine project, so the affected communities could move on to focus on exploring other opportunities for economic development in the region.

“The saddest thing about both judicial reviews is that they are giving the people in the Cariboo false hopes about the possibility of the project moving forward.”