Tag Archives: Prosperity Mine

Federal Hearings Into Revised Prosperity Mine Poroposal Begin


Read this story from CTV.ca on a new round of federal environmental hearings into the proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake. (Jan. 29, 2012)

With all eyes on hearings for the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline that would link Alberta’s oil sands to tankers on the B.C. coast, a federal environmental review of another contentious B.C. project is quietly getting underway.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has released guidelines and terms of reference that will form the framework for an environmental review of Taseko Mines Ltd.’s (TSX:TKO) proposed Prosperity gold and copper mine in the B.C. Interior.

The agency is seeking comments on the documents until Feb. 22.

But the approach of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government toward the federal hearings on the Northern Gateway doesn’t give First Nations opponents much faith in the environmental review of the mine.

“We feel the writing’s on the wall,” Chief Joe Alphonse, leader of the Tsilqhot’in National Government, said in an interview.

“Mr. Harper is making statements around the Enbridge project that anyone opposing the project is an enemy of Canada. That’s the same situation.”

Read more: http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20120129/bc_prosperity_mine_project_120128/20120129/?hub=BritishColumbiaHome


BREAKING: Judge sides with Tsilhqot’in – Issues Injunction Against Taseko Mines!


Read this breaking story from CTV News on BC Supreme Court Justice Christopher Grauer’s decision earlier today to grant the Tsilhqot’in First Nations an injunction to prevent Taseko Mines from carrying out any more preliminary construction work on its controversial proposed Prosperity Mine.

“An aboriginal band has been granted an injunction preventing
Taseko Mines from conducting exploration work around its proposed gold
and copper mine in B.C.’s central Interior. In the same court hearing, Taseko failed in its bid for an
injunction forcing the Tsilhqot’in First Nation to stop blocking the
company’s access to the site outside Williams Lake, B.C.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Grauer ruled Friday the
band wasn’t properly consulted on two permits granted to Taseko by the
provincial government. Grauer said the First Nation will suffer greater harm than Taseko
if the exploration and trail building work for the proposed New
Prosperity mine continues.” (Dec 2, 2011)

Read article: http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20111202/bc_first_nation_injunction_taseko_mine_111202/20111202/?hub=BritishColumbiaHome


First Nations Stand Their Ground Against Prosperity Mine at BC Supreme Court


The Tsilhqot’in First Nations and their supporters have been at the BC Supreme Court this week, fighting for an injunction to keep Taseko Mines from commencing work on the controversial proposed Prosperity Mine – amid Tsilhqot’in traditional territory, southwest of Williams Lake. While the Harper Government recently agreed to examine a new version of the mine it already rejected last year, the BC Government has pushed ahead, granting the company permits to begin work. The result is an accelerating stand-off between First Nations, Taseko and the Clark Government – highlighted at this rally outside the courthouse on Monday.


Mounting Legal Clash Over Prosperity Mine


Read this story from The Globe and Mail on the debate between First Nations and Taseko Mines, now playing out in the BC courts.

“The battle between the Tsilhqot’in Nation and Taseko Mines Ltd. has
heated up after allegations that three members of the first nations
community obstructed workers attempting to access the Prosperity mine
site in northern B.C.

‘As a result of this interference, we,
today, have initiated legal proceedings against these individuals and
we’ll be seeking an order restraining them from unlawfully interfering
with the company’s lawfully approved work,’ said Brian Battison, the
company’s corporate affairs vice president. Taseko has received
government approval to conduct exploratory work.” (Nov. 14, 2011)

Read article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-politics/legal-clash-builds-between-taseko-first-nations-over-prosperity-mine/article2236184/?from=sec431

Marie William of the Xeni Gwet'in fishes Teztan Biny (

Why Culture Matters: Prosperity Mine’s Impacts on the People and Land of the Nemaiah Valley


Editor’s Note: In the wake of two major developments regarding the highly controversial proposed Prosperity Mine – the Harper Government’s decision to provide Taseko Mines a new environmental review for an alternate version of the project and the BC government’s issuing of road building and exploration permits to the company, over First Nations opposition – David Williams of Friends of Nemaiah Valley provides a candid summary of the enormous environmental and cultural implications of the proposed mine. This is the first story from our new op-ed blog, Your Voice.


Earlier this week, we at Friends of the Nemaiah Valley (FONV) heard that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) has agreed to conduct an environmental assessment of Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML) proposed “New Prosperity” mine application in Tsilhqot’in territory.

This unfortunate decision is misguided for many reasons. This is the third try by TML to develop this mine, one of the largest gold/copper deposits in British Columbia. It was turned down twice in the recent past because the environmental consequences would be too great. Even by Taseko’s own admission during hearings last year, this “tweaked” proposal, then known as Option II, would have even worse environmental consequences than the one rejected by the federal government.

While there are environmental reasons to reject this mine – it is in prime grizzly habitat, will destroy a large rainbow trout population, and threatens large salmon runs that are part of the Fraser River fishery – it is the impact it will have on the local Xeni Gwet’in community in the Nemaiah Valley that I want to focus on.

Picture a “camp” of up to 600 miners placed into a remote First Nations Community that is still largely dependent upon the land for sustenance and identity. This camp will be in place for up to 35 years.  250 Xeni Gwet’in, the People of the Rivers, live in the Nemaiah Valley alongside a small settler community of about fifty people. The latter operate small ranches, run wilderness lodges, fish, hunt and trap, and just like the way of life that prevails here.

Xeni Gwet’in, like indigenous people everywhere, identify with their land. They see themselves as part of it and view any action that destroys any part of it as an assault upon their very being. These days Tsihqot’in culture is recovering from the onslaughts of the colonial era; displacement from places they have relied upon for survival for virtually forever, the reserve system, and residential schools that were designed to destroy their language and culture. That recovery is well advanced in the Nemaiah Valley.  Fully 50% of the food consumed comes directly from the land and includes salmon and trout from Nabas.

Consequently they have the lowest diabetes rate in British Columbia. The Tsihlqot’in language, almost lost a few years ago, is now taught in the local school. Peter Brand, Director of the brilliant First Voices programme, says that of all the places he visits across the province the Nemaiah Valley Xeni Gwet’in live closest to their traditional way of life.

An ethic of caring for their land lies deep within the culture.

Chief Marilyn is one of three Xeni Gwet’in co-authors interviewed by Jonaki Bhattacharyya, doctoral candidate at the University of Waterloo. (It’s Who We Are: Locating Cultural Strength in Relationship with the Land, a chapter in a forthcoming book published by UBC Press).

“You need to teach about the importance of caring for water and resources as early as you can! And that’s how the language is learned.

The Tsilhqot’in language is where the deepest strength of who we are and how we’re tied to the land really is.”

Speaking of the panel hearings into Prosperity Mine specifically specifically Marilyn says:

“Our community here, Xeni Gwet’in…we went into the CEAA Panel hearings thinking that we weren’t going to have enough speakers. That was always the fear in all the communities. Because that is a very threatening, intimidating process! Even to us, as leaders!  But…our people did just tremendously.  It would blow your socks off! Our Elders, our people…just being there, filling the room all those days, and being here those long hours. You couldn’t chase them away if you wanted to. They’d probably chase you away! [laughs] And our youth, the school, all of the kids… The senior class decided to do some submissions.  They did a beautiful job. And the intermediate class, they did a play. That was so amazing! They did such a tremendous job. The strength and the voices of everybody in the Tsilhqot’in communities…”

From the same chapter by Bhattacharyya, Xeni Gwet’in Wild Horse Ranger David Setah: 

“I think in order to give, to find that strength…your kids should also know their past, your past histories… all that about being caretakers, Chilcotin War, all the legends. All that will lead them to who they are. And all that will strengthen them, because they know that they are actually Tsilhqot’ins, and they know their history. And they can go out there being proud because they know they’re connected to that area.

That’s one of my biggest goals is that we’re being caretakers. We’ve done it in the past, and with European contact and things like that, we can still do it. We must still keep in mind that we need to protect our rights. If we keep on in that fashion we’re just building ourselves a stronger nation, and it would be pretty hard for something to come in to affect us. The land is… to remain as a nation and to be recognized as a nation you need the land. We need to take care of the land. That’s what we did a long time ago.  And that’s why we’re situated in the areas that we are: to take care of the land.”
Culture matters. These voices bring an important message. Indigenous cultures and languages are vital repositories of knowledge and custom that show a thousand ways to be human. Indigenous cultures, and a way of life still strong in the Nemaiah Valley, can teach us all how better to live in this land. Until we learn to show respect for the land, and for them, we will continue an ethic of endless growth that is having cumulative environmental impacts that threaten the very ecosystems that make life on this planet possible.

The people of Xeni are not unsophisticated. They and their settler neighbours and friends were  opposed to Prosperity Mine last year. The new model is no better or even worse. They know what 600 miners running loose in their community will do to their way of life, to their land, and to their children. Drugs, alcohol and abuse will be an inevitable component. Mechanized recreation on a vast scale will destroy budding attempts by the community to build a local economy centred around wilderness and cultural tourism. There is plenty of precedent for similar disasters throughout Canada and in third world countries.

It is time to put an end to this colonialist venture if Canada is to maintain even the pretence of being a just nation.

David Williams is the President of Friends of the Nemaiah Valley

Members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation and their supporters protest outside of Taseko Mines' Vancouver offices last year

Tsilhqot’in Nation Goes to Court Over BC Govt’s Exploration Approvals for Prosperity Mine


The Tsilhqot’in Nation is firing back at the BC Government with legal action following the confirmation this past Friday that the Province has issued permits to Taseko Mines for work related to its proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake, West of Williams Lake.

According to a press release issued by the aboriginal government, “The Tsilhqot’in Nation has launched a court challenge asking the B.C. Supreme Court to invalidate or suspend approvals granted by British Columbia to Taseko Mines Limited for extensive drilling, excavation, timber clearing, road construction and other exploratory work for its controversial ‘New’ Prosperity Mine.”

Earlier this week, leaders representing the Nation condemned the Clark Government’s decision to award work permits long before the highly controversial project receives federal approvals. The Harper Government confirmed on Monday that an amended proposal for the project it rejected last year will receive a second federal environmental assessment.

The judicial petition filed in the BC Supreme Court alleges the Province neglected to consult and accommodate First Nations regarding the controversial permits.

“This company went through years of exploration for its failed first bid,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet’in people, upon whose territory the mine would be built. “Now they want to go back in there and drill more holes, dig nearly 60 test pits and clear over 23 kilometres of road, all for this new mine proposal that the company knows – and has publicly stated – is worse for the environment that its preferred option.  We are appealing to the court to uphold the principles of fairness and justice.”    

Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government added, “We’re talking about serious impacts for our rights and our culture. The Province refused to acknowledge these impacts, no matter what we
say; it is more concerned with handing over approvals.  We’ve gone to
court before, we’ve stood in front of the federal panel, we have proven
over and over again how important these lands are to our people and our
culture – but the Province never seems to get the message.”

The Nation’s legal counsel, Jay Nelson, said the Province secretly approved the permits 6 weeks ago, without alerting his clients. “We all know this is a high conflict situation, and this kind of disrespect only throws fuel on the fire,” he added.    


Province Issues Prosperity Mine Exploration, Road-Building Permits Over Strong First Nations Opposition


Read this story from the Williams Lake Tribune, confirming the Clark Government has already issued permits to Taseko Mines for exploration and road building related to the company’s highly controversial Prosperity Mine – this despite the announcement of a new Federal Panel Review on the company’s updated proposal and the ongoing opposition of local First Nations.

“The permits pertain to on-site work required for engineering purposes
and include permission to build ‘trails’ to move equipment on the
property as well as drilling and test pitting to obtain geotechnical
information for the project’s new dam location. [Taseko Vice-President Brian] Battison said the permits allow for 59 test pits, eight
geotechnical drill holes and 10 diamond drill holes as well as 23.5
kilometres of trail…

…Tsilqot’in National Government chair Joe Alphonse called the issuance
of permits, ‘…drawing a line in the sand.’ He added, ‘I think they
want to know what’s going to happen and I think that’s a good way to
find out.’ Alphonse said there is a general lack of faith in the provincial review process. ‘Whatever process the province is coming up with it has already been pre-approved as far as we’re concerned,’ he said.” (Nov. 8, 2011)

Read full article: http://www.wltribune.com/news/133410023.html


Propserity Mine Gest Second Chance at Federal Review, Over First Nations Opposition


Read this story from CBC.ca confirming that Taseko Mines will get a second chance at a federal panel review with a revised proposal for its Prosperity Mine, in the Chilcotin Territory West of Williams Lake. Meanwhile, First Nations remain vehemently opposed to the project, even in its latest incarnation.

“The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ordered a new federal
review Monday of the company’s proposal for the New Prosperity Mine,
located 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C. The federal agency initially found an earlier version of Taseko’s
mine environmentally unacceptable. Based on that assessment,
then-environment minister Jim Prentice refused to let the project go
ahead in November 2010.

The review panel will be a group of independent experts selected on
the basis of their knowledge and expertise and appointed by the minister
of the environment. The assessment that Prentice based his judgment on
was a comprehensive study. Those studies are conducted by CEAA staff in
collaboration with environmental experts from various federal
departments.” (Nov. 7, 2011)

Read full article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/11/07/taseko-environment-mine.html?cmp=rss


Clark Government Fast-Tracks Prosperity Mine


Read this story from Pacific Free Press, including a press release from the Tsilhqot’in National Government on the BC Government’s issuing of fast-tracked permits for Taseko Mines to begin drilling and building roads for its proposed Prosperity Mine.

“The proponent has
already submitted a proposal for “New” Prosperity, a mine alternative
that it has described in the past as even more environmentally damaging.
At the same time, British Columbia recently issued approvals that
authorize the proponent to extensively drill, build roads and clear
trees throughout this area of such critical importance to our people.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation considers the approvals issued by British
Columbia unlawful because of the Province’s failure to meaningfully
consult or accommodate our Nation or to justify the impacts on our
proven Aboriginal rights to hunt and trap throughout those lands. We
remain confident that the Federal Government will continue to do the
right thing and once again reject this clearly unacceptable mine
proposal.” (Nov. 2, 2011)

Read full story: http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1-/10083-british-columbia-grants-go-ahead-for-once-denied-qprosperity-mineq.html


A Tale of Two BC Mining Fiascos


There are two mining stories out of last week in Lotusland.

For openers, let’s deal with “Prosperity” Lake which, before the corporate flacks got involved, was called Fish Lake.
The short story is that this is a mine prospect held by Taseko Mines. While the Provincial government approved it, it was turned down by the feds who then gave the company time to put in a new proposal, which they did. With the speed of light the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency received the new application last February and hasn’t yet decided anything. This delay brought a fire and brimstone editorial from the Fraser Institute’s house paper, the Vancouver Sun, which threw unsourced “facts” at us, including a promise of 71,000 jobs with 5,400 new residents for the nearby town of Williams Lake. We’re not told where those figures come from but clearly they’re from the large sack of extravagant statements the Fraser Institute keeps on hand for whenever their definition of capitalism is called to account.
Since the Sun doesn’t state otherwise, we must assume that the 71,000 jobs are for construction of the mine, which is preposterous. Whatever jobs it does take will, based upon long experience, come from outside the province. And are these 5,400 new arrivals necessary to run a mine?
Mr. Mihlar, the Fraser Institute’s editor of The Sun, the think tank’s poodle, should visit an operation of a modern, computerized mine before throwing numbers around.
A neat line in the editorial refers to outside agitators, I can only hope that I and fellow environmentalists are amongst them. The thought that environmentalists are outside agitators brings a sense of deep pride; how rewarding it is to be compared to the “freedom fighters” in the American South in the Sixties.
It’s so much like the Fraser Institute’ poodle, the Sun, to pretend they are not “outside agitators”.
The Sun’s call for putting the Taseko Prosperity Mine on the fast track is code for “approve at once” and ignores the fact that First Nations people and we outside agitators have yet to be heard from on the new proposition.
If I were able to cross-examine the company and their flacks my question would be: Why didn’t you submit your amended proposal in the first place? (The proposal existed, in fact, but the company insisted it wasn’t “economically viable”, before suddenly changing its tune the day after the first proposal was rejected). Can we assume that if you’re turned down for proposal #2, you have “proposition 3” in your ass pocket?
It’s interesting that Mr. Milhar doesn’t deal with the environmental concerns that remain, with attention be paid to the threats of damage to other waters especially to migrating salmon streams. Even though the company’s latest proposal seeks to avoid destroying Fish Lake, it still threatens Fish Creek, Taseko Lake and the Taseko River – important salmon habitat that eventually connects with the Fraser River.
It’s also interesting that the Fraser Institute/Sun combination believes that where development and the environment clash development must carry the day.
This infomercial of Mr. Milhar should help us start the great debate, namely, what do British Columbians want to be – one of the blessed lands where commercial intrusion is secondary to environmental preservation or a place where when a conflict occurs, industry holds all the trumps?
Then there’s the Boss Power case – a uranium property which has cost the taxpayers $30 million to settle. If the Liberals had continued the no uranium policy brought into force by the excellent Environment Minister in 1979 (name provided upon demand) this issue would not have come up.
As Mike Smyth of the Province stated in a column last week, this case has the same stench the BC Rail case had – gross negligence of staggering proportions that, as with the BC Rail case, best not let a judge with an open courtroom sniff around.
There is another angle to this story not given sufficient attention.
First a bit of background.
Ministers have the right to have their policies implemented by the public servants however much they may not want to; what ministers cannot do is interfere with a public servant who’s doing as a statute compels him to do. Registrars under various different statutes are usually under a statute which sets the rules he must administer – he has no options.
For a minister to try to influence the administration of a statutory obligation would, in a decent government, be forced to resign.  
In this case the company was making an application to The Chief Inspector of Mines for a permit to drill. The chief inspector has a statutory obligation to receive and pass judgments – ministerial interference is highly improper.
The then Minister of Mines, Kevin Krueger, instructed the Inspector to ignore the company’s application to drill. This is so improper that the minister should have resigned or, failing that, been fired forthwith.
What this case shows is that the Campbell/Clark government has the morality of an alley cat (with apologies to the feline community). Read alongside the BC Rail cover-up we see tawdry, sloppy ministers with no clue about what ministerial impropriety means and with a contempt for process an integral part of their modus operandi.
These two stories, read together, show an alarming disinterest in real values and respect for the public’s right to know the facts and the ability to be heard. The Vancouver Sun editorial, when you think on it, takes the breath away – process means let’s get on with it! Corporation “facts” must be considered holy writ and the process an ill-disguised sham – a quick, pro forma minor nuisance.
British Columbians must decide what sort of place they and what values they hold. And since the next major decisions will be pipelines and tankers, the sooner the better.