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Canada’s New Prosperity decision: AME BC, regional politicians, Tsilhqot’in chiefs, Taseko Mines respond

by Greg Klein | February 27, 2014

While native opponents welcomed the federal rejection of Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity project, the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia defended the proposal, two B.C. Conservative backbenchers slammed their own party, a local mayor expressed despair and the company vowed to pursue a judicial review.

“We are concerned that this decision is primarily based on the recommendation of the independent federal review panel, which may not have reviewed or included all of the best available scientific evidence,” said AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom in a February 27 statement.

There are tens of thousands of people in the Cariboo who were looking at this project as a lifeline and an opportunity in communities that have been very hard hit.—Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, as quoted by Canadian Press

The news release adds, “It appears to AME BC that the federal review panel used an incorrect model that predicted seepage from the New Prosperity tailings storage facility.”

Calling the project’s deposit “one of the largest of its kind in the world,” the association cited estimates that it would provide “over 20 years of economic development and nearly $10 billion in government revenues by creating 700 jobs during construction and 500 jobs throughout the mine’s operational period.”

Meanwhile two Conservative backbenchers from the region have denounced their own party, according to a Canadian Press dispatch published by CTV. Cathy McLeod, whose riding would have hosted the mine, and Dick Harris, who represents a neighbouring constituency, both spoke of opportunities lost to a struggling region.

“There are tens of thousands of people in the Cariboo who were looking at this project as a lifeline and an opportunity in communities that have been very hard hit,” McLeod told CP. “I really am feeling incredibly disappointed.”

The news agency quoted Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook saying, “There’s shock, there’s anger, there’s frustration, there’s disillusionment with the decision. We need to find a way to move forward.”

But native leaders celebrated the federal government decision, calling Taseko’s proposal an “open-pit disaster.”

In a joint statement Tsilhqot’in chiefs called for “the end of a costly, pointless battle that has dragged on since at least 1995, when Taseko Mines Ltd was first told by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans not to waste any further time or money pursuing this unacceptable project.”

The group said two environmental review panels found “the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on first nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.”

The group “will be making public a Tsilhqot’in mining policy about how engagement in our territory must occur,” stated Chief Joe Alphonse. “In this case, it was the wrong project in the wrong place.”

In another February 27 statement, Taseko said the company will continue with an application launched in December for a federal judicial review into the panel’s findings “and the panel’s failure to comply with principles of procedural fairness.”

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