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Controversial ex-environment minister joins TMAC board of directors

by Greg Klein | March 15, 2016

The announcement was somewhat muted, coming in the subhead and second paragraph of a February press release about Q4 financial and operating results. TMAC Resources TSX:TMR has appointed Leona Aglukkaq to its board of directors. The last environment minister in Canada’s former Conservative cabinet, Aglukkaq figures prominently in a lawsuit from Taseko Mines TSX:TKO against the federal government.

Controversial ex-environment minister appointed to miner’s board of directors

Leona Aglukkaq

Taseko alleged that senior officials including Aglukkaq’s deputy minister and parliamentary secretary held undisclosed meetings with opponents of the company’s proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine after a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency-appointed panel completed its review. According to Taseko, opponents “provided input on draft conditions for the decision statement.”

Taseko further claimed that “the minister relied on this information to conclude that the project was likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The lawsuit doesn’t name Aglukkaq as a defendant. Taseko’s allegations haven’t been proven in court.

Months before Aglukkaq’s decision, Taseko stated that the environmental review considered a tailings storage design “completely different” from the company’s proposal.

Aglukkaq, the first Inuk to be appointed to cabinet, served two terms as MP for Nunavut until her defeat in last October’s federal election. She had previously served four years in the territorial legislature.

Located in the Kitikmeot region of western Nunavut, TMAC’s Hope Bay project has a 2015 pre-feasibility study that foresees a 20-year mine life producing 3.2 million gold ounces.

In his February announcement, TMAC executive chairperson Terry MacGibbon said, “In addition to her federal government experience, Ms. Aglukkaq has broad public government exposure, including international diplomatic experience as a minister of the Arctic Council (2012-2015), a leading inter-governmental forum promoting co-operation, co-ordination and interaction among the arctic states, arctic indigenous communities and other arctic inhabitants on common arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection.” She has also served on the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Aglukkaq’s TMAC board appointment took effect February 25, exactly two years after she issued her New Prosperity decision.

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