Harper stands firm on rejecting proposed Prosperity mine project


From the Globe & Mail – Feb 21, 2011

by Ian Bailey

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government would reject high-level lobbying to revive the Prosperity Mine project.

Christy Clark, seeking the leadership of the B.C. Liberals, had promised
to press Ottawa to change its decision on the $800-million mine if she
became premier, but Mr. Harper told reporters on Monday that he was not
interested in “political bargaining” over the fate of the project.

Mr. Harper was not referring specifically to Ms. Clark’s pledge, but
rather to a question about a possible bid by B.C.’s next government to
save the project. A new premier will be elected Feb. 26 by B.C.

“The government has rendered a decision. That decision is final. That’s a
legal decision,” Mr. Harper said during a news conference.

“We acted on a comprehensive federal environmental assessment that was
absolutely categorical and we have invited the proponent to redesign the
project if the proponent is interested in proceeding in a way that
would respect the myriad and serious environmental concerns that were
raised by that assessment,” Mr. Harper said.

“These kinds of decisions are made on the basis of facts – not just
economic facts, but also environmental facts in this case, and
proponents will have to address that. This is not a matter of political

Mr. Harper’s comments came as Taseko Mines Limited, leading the project,
said Monday it had submitted a new proposal for the copper and gold

The company said in a statement it can now save Fish Lake, near the
community of Williams Lake, which was a point of concern in their
previous submission. Such an effort would add $300-million to the
planned $800-million project.

The company said it has been assured by the federal government that it
wants to see resource projects developed, and is only opposed to the way
Prosperity was originally proposed.

A provincial assessment of Prosperity supported the original project but
acknowledged the controversial planned destruction of Fish Lake to
store toxic waste from the mine.

B.C. was looking forward to the predicted $5-billion economic injection
over the 20-year life of the mine and $600-million of revenue for
various governments, in a region of the province devastated by the
mountain pine beetle. The destruction of Fish Lake was vehemently
opposed by local natives, who hold it to be a sacred site.

However, the project was eventually rejected by the federal government after a negative environmental assessment.

A spokesman for Ms. Clark said Monday that the former deputy premier was
only ever interested in supporting the company’s efforts to make the
process work.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.