No prosperity for Taseko-Harper govt rejects BC mine

No prosperity for Taseko: Harper govt rejects BC mine

No prosperity for Taseko-Harper govt rejects BC mine
The location of Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity Mine, west of Williams Lake

After three years, several court cases, two project designs and as many federal reviews, the Harper government has rejected Taseko Mines’ controversial Properity Mine proposal for BC.

A statement issued earlier today on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s website noted that Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq “has concluded that the New Prosperity Mine project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated.”

[quote]The Governor in Council has determined that those effects are not justified in the circumstances; therefore, the project may not proceed. [/quote]

Mine gets second life after Prentice’s rejection

The original Prosperity Mine proposal, which would have involved draining Fish Lake in Tsilhqot’in First Nation territory, west of Williams Lake, was rejected by then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice in 2010.

The company submitted a revised proposal in 2012, which First Nations leaders concluded still posed a significant threat to local watercourses, fish, and their traditional way of life.

The debate over the mine reached a fever pitch in 2013, when Taseko’s president publicly attacked Tsilhqot’in resistance to the mine.

“A recent op-ed by the President of Taseko Mines Ltd., Russ Hallbauer, argues that the overwhelming First Nations’ opposition to its controversial New Prosperity mine proposal is the result of ‘misinformed testimony by special interests’,” wrote Chief Roger William in a strongly-worded rebuttal.

[quote]This position is insulting, inaccurate and yet another example of the company’s refusal to hear the voices of our people or acknowledge the very real impacts this mine would have for our communities and our Tsilhqot’in way of life.[/quote]

Legal wrangling over mine

The issue also wound up in the courts on several occasions as the Tsilhqot’in challenged permits for exploratory drilling issued by the Clark Government prior to the conclusion of the federal review for the modified design.

Following a damning environmental assessment of the mine from the review panel late last year, Taseko even took the extraordinary step of requesting a federal judicial review into the panel’s findings.”Taseko is asking the court for a declaration that certain panel findings relating to seepage and water quality be set aside, and that the panel failed in certain respects to comply with principles of procedural fairness,” stated the company’s filing in a Vancouver court.

Door open to different mine proposal for region

In the end, the Harper government sided with the First Nation and the opinions of various scientists who presented to the review panel, including those from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada who raised serious concerns with even the new version of the project. “The Government of Canada will make decisions based on the best available scientific evidence while balancing economic and environmental considerations,” said Aglukkaq, while leaving the door open to another mine in the region:

[quote]The Government will continue to make responsible resource development a priority and invites the submission of another proposal that addresses the Government’s concerns.[/quote]

2011 video on Tsilhqot’in opposition to Prosperity Mine


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.

8 thoughts on “No prosperity for Taseko: Harper govt rejects BC mine

  1. March 6, 2014
    Now that the celebration is all over and the Chilcotin Nation are claiming victory over New Prosperity Mine, Nobody is a winner and we all went backwards. It’s not over yet. Look at all the employment that this mine would have created and our young people would have benefited from this mine. Our young people need a future, we need a better life for them. Over the course of the mine hearings, I heard the leader say that we will lose our culture if the mine goes in. C’mon grab a brain! You can work in a mine and still keep your culture. The only time you practice your culture is when you hold culture camps and get paid for it. Our Elders never got paid for these kinds of activities, they did it on their own and they never got paid from their bands.
    You need to thank all your mining activist buddies for doing all the talking for you, like Amnesty International, Council for Canadians, Mining Watch Canada, Sierra Club, Fish Lake Alliance, Friends of Nemiah.
    J.P. LaPlante does not know everything about mining; he is just an activist and gets paid big money.
    And Sage Birchwater is just using you guys, when this is all over he will write a book on this and put little blurbs in the book from the chiefs much like he did when he wrote the book called (Chiwid).
    Where were the Unions asking for Jobs for their Brothers and Sisters? Their silence will not be forgiven.
    What I am writing might not sit with some of you, but this is mild compared to what I could say to you face to face. How do you think I felt for the last three years since I started supporting the New Prosperity Mine? I was ostracized from my own Nation, some of my own family won’t even talk to me and I led this Nation for twenty years. But thank God for the wonderful people in Williams Lake who welcomed me with open arms and I thank them for that. I also want to thank the few friends that I have from my own people and most of the Elders.
    It’s embarrassing to hear some of you say that the white men are ruining our country. Look at Redstone reserve and the garbage across the creek on both sides of the one Kilometer road and the top side of the highway is starting to look like a garbage dump.
    It’s been brought to the Chief and Council before but they don’t care, so before you start accusing the white man of ruining your country, look at your back yard. It’s embarrassing.
    I talk to one of the Elders in our community and he told me that his water is frozen, and that he was without water for two weeks. I know that Elder, he’s my brother.
    The maintenance man knows about it and some of the council knew that and you have the gaul to say you respect the elders. I’m an Elder and I don’t get any respect from you guys. I get more respect from non native people in Williams Lake.
    I think you Chiefs have to get your heads out of the sand and start looking at the future of our younger generation.
    That is all I have to say. I have spoken.
    Ervin Charleyboy
    Former Chief of the Alexis Creek Band &
    Former Tribal Chief of the Chilcotin Nation

  2. Taseko was/is a small public relations sacrifice, as the Conservatives try to demonstrate that they really, really (really) do care about the environment, aboriginals and all those other squishy issues.

    A small price to pay in return for better press when they finally give the green light to Northern Gateway.

    Taseko will be back later, after the pipeline uproar dies down.

  3. Thank goodness I sold my TKO shares months ago. How this “conservative” government plans to build an economy which encourages risk-taking, capital accumulation, or capital expenditure escapes me…

  4. Yikes! Someone from the harper government doing the right (as in correct) thing for a change.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

  5. My heart weeps for our land and the good people. Maybe when the First Nation rises to the fight, we will all join the battle. “Fighting terrorism since 1492″…..Tshirt

Comments are closed.