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Federal environmental review screwed up, Taseko charges

by Greg Klein | November 5, 2013

A damning report on Taseko Mines’ TSX:TKO proposed New Prosperity open pit was based on incorrect information, the company stated late November 5. Info supplied by Natural Resources Canada to its environmental review panel about the tailings storage design, “which was the basis of their analysis, is completely different than the Taseko design,” the company maintained.

Taseko said engineering consultant Knight Piesold discovered the federal agency’s error while reviewing the panel’s 323-page report. The federal minister of environment has 120 days to decide whether to approve or reject the $1.1-billion copper-gold mine proposed for central British Columbia.

This calls into question the validity of the finding made by the panel of significant adverse effects.—Brian Battison, VP of corporate affairs for Taseko Mines

Taseko added, “The panel’s findings regarding anticipated seepage, and the related impacts on Fish Lake, are integral to the panel’s conclusion that the project was likely to cause significant adverse effects on fish and fish habitat, wetlands and aboriginal interest in the Fish Lake area.”

The company’s plan includes a “continuous low permeability compact soil liner to restrict seepage losses,” Taseko said. The federal agency and its appointed panel “assumed that the low permeability basin liner is not included and that seepage will therefore readily leak into more pervious overburden and fractured bedrock.”

Even if Taseko’s charge is accurate, the company can’t explain how the feds made the mistake. “We don’t know why it happened. All we know is what happened,” Taseko VP of corporate affairs Brian Battison tells ResourceClips.com. “This calls into question the validity of the finding made by the panel of significant adverse effects. So now the government of Canada has this flawed finding that they need to deal with and the minister will need to take that into consideration when she decides whether there is indeed a significant adverse environmental effect or not.”

The company has already requested Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq consider a submission Taseko will make in the coming weeks. “All we’re saying to her is, ‘Don’t decide that too quickly until we provide additional information. It’s important information, so don’t rush to a conclusion.”

The decision, he says, will “affect the lives of tens of thousands of people. So we want to make sure we do these things carefully and get them right.”

(November 6 update: No comment from Ottawa on Taseko’s allegation.)

Read more about the federal review panel’s report.

Read more about Taseko’s proposal, community responses and the environmental review process.

Read about Ottawa’s redefinition of environmental issues.

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