Tuesday 23rd October 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Taseko Mines Ltd (TKO)’

Tsilhqot’in chairperson Joe Alphonse reacts to a court decision allowing work on B.C.’s New Prosperity project

September 26th, 2018

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Russell Hallbauer of Taseko Mines comments on a court decision allowing an exploration permit for B.C.’s New Prosperity project

September 24th, 2018

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Taseko claims court victory but natives call on B.C. to block New Prosperity

August 28th, 2018

by Greg Klein | August 28, 2018

In theory, the latest court decision regarding Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity project might have brought some clarity to Canada’s vaguely defined “duty to consult.” But how that plays out in practice remains to be seen.

On August 28 the company stated that last week’s British Columbia Supreme Court decision overrules native objection to an exploration permit. The ruling allows Taseko to collect data that might overcome a 2014 federal environmental rejection for the proposed gold-copper open pit in the province’s south-central area.

Taseko claims court victory but natives call on B.C. to block New Prosperity

Calling the decision “unequivocal,” company president/CEO Russell Hallbauer said it affirmed the province’s “authority to approve resource development work even in the face of aboriginal opposition. The Crown’s obligation is to consult with aboriginal people and to accommodate their interests where reasonable to do so. However, there is no duty or obligation to secure aboriginal support for the work being proposed.”

In 2010 a predecessor project called Prosperity met federal environmental rejection largely due to a plan to convert a 118-hectare lake into a tailings facility. Taseko then submitted a $300-million revision called New Prosperity, which would relocate the tailings. In the face of continued objection by the Tsilhqot’in National Government, Ottawa delivered its second rejection in 2014.

New Prosperity did, however, win provincial environmental approval and had the support of B.C.’s previous Liberal government. Last week’s court decision ruled on a challenge to an exploration permit granted under the Liberals.

“From our perspective, the permit is like the Liberal party giving a welcoming present of infected smallpox blankets to the junior incoming NDP government,” commented Tsilhqot’in chairperson Joe Alphonse. “The proper steps would be to pull the pin on this permit. The NDP government has the power to do so and should do the honourable thing—something that the former B.C. Liberal government wouldn’t do. We will be exhausting all options to ensure our cultural, spiritual and sacred lands are protected for the use of current and future generations.”

Last year the Tsilhqot’in petitioned the legislature to create a “tribal park” that would preserve the area including New Prosperity.

A 2009 estimate credited the proposed mine with measured and indicated resources totalling 1.01 billion tonnes averaging 0.41 g/t gold and 0.24% copper for 13.3 million ounces gold and 5.3 billion pounds copper. A report commissioned by Taseko forecast 71,000 direct and indirect jobs, $4.3 billion in federal taxes and $5.52 billion in provincial taxes resulting from the mine.

Taseko also holds a 75% interest in Canada’s second-largest open pit copper mine, the Gibraltar operation in south-central B.C. In Arizona, the company’s Florence copper mine is expected to begin production by year-end.

Canadian International Minerals reconsiders niobium potential of B.C. REE project

January 26th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 26, 2017

Canadian International Minerals reconsiders niobium potential of B.C. REE project

A rare earths property in British Columbia’s Rocky Mountain rare metal belt gains new attention as Canadian International Minerals TSXV:CIN takes another look at previous assays. An 11-hole program on the Wicheeda alkaline-carbonatite project in 2011 targeted rare earths but the company didn’t consider the niobium results to be material info. On January 26, however, CIN released niobium assays from four 2011 holes, with highlights showing:

Hole CA-11-010

  • 0.188% Nb2O5 over 16.06 metres, starting at 171.8 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.27% over 6.3 metres)
  • (which includes 0.731% over 0.98 metres)

CA-11-014

  • 0.156% over 24.43 metres, starting at 173.23 metres
  • (including 0.217% over 9.57 metres)
  • (which includes 0.337% over 3.9 metres)

  • 0.226% over 37.6 metres, starting at 232.98 metres
  • (including 0.297% over 18.27 metres)
  • (which includes 0.321% over 8.48 metres)
  • (which includes 0.632% Nb2O5 and 158 ppm tantalum over 2.2 metres)

True widths weren’t available.

Formerly called the Carbo project, Wicheeda showed RE results in the range of 0.2% to 0.5% total rare earth oxides in most of the 11 holes sunk during 2011. The previous year’s campaign found significant RE mineralization in all nine holes, with one intercept hitting 1.43% TREO over 37.3 metres.

Adjacent to CIN’s Wicheeda, Spectrum Mining’s Wicheeda project holds an inferred 11.3 million tonnes averaging 2.5% TREO.

CIN noted two niobium deposits hosted in the Rocky Mountain rare metal belt. The Upper Fir deposit on Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Blue River project holds an indicated 48.41 million tonnes averaging 0.161% Nb2O5 and 197 ppm Ta2O5. Located about 330 kilometres southeast of Wicheeda, Upper Fir also holds an inferred 5.4 million tonnes averaging 0.176% Nb2O5 and 191 ppm Ta2O5.

About 240 kilometres northwest of Wicheeda, Taseko Mines TSX:TKO brought the Aley project to pre-feas in 2014 with proven and probable reserves of 83.8 million tonnes averaging 0.5% Nb2O5.

CIN stated it “continues to re-evaluate the exploration targets for the Wicheeda project and will be investigating a number of partnership avenues in the coming weeks.”

In November the company released sample results from a due diligence program on its proposed Tisova acquisition, a former copper-polymetallic mine in the Czech Republic.

Dual challenge

July 24th, 2016

Do mining proposals really need both provincial and federal enviro scrutiny?

by Greg Klein

Ottawa’s rejection of the proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine in British Columbia certainly hasn’t gone unchallenged. Taseko Mines TSX:TKO has already launched two judicial reviews as well as a civil suit castigating the manner in which the company says the feds carried out their authority. Now Taseko seems to be challenging federal authority itself.

“Ownership and development of mineral resources are explicit areas of provincial jurisdiction and responsibility, granted under the 1982 amendments to the Constitution Act 1867,” said a July 20 statement from president/CEO Russell Hallbauer. “The New Prosperity environmental assessment process has been unduly influenced by the actions of the federal government.”

Do mining proposals really need both provincial and federal enviro scrutiny?

How far the company intends to push that argument remains to be seen. But this typically Canadian jurisdictional muddle also raises the question of why two environmental processes are necessary—not to mention how they can come to such different conclusions. Prior to the feds’ rejection, B.C. had approved the mine.

B.C. now has a substitution agreement that allows some resource proposals to forgo the federal review for a provincial process. Ottawa still gets a say, though. Out of the one review come two decisions, federal and provincial.

B.C.’s the only province with such an agreement. According to terms first set out in a 2013 MOU, the provincial environment minister pitches a substitution request to her federal counterpart, who considers factors including transboundary effects, impacts on federal lands and other jurisdictional interests. If Ottawa agrees, the province conducts the review. If Ottawa doesn’t agree, a co-operative assessment or joint review panel might take place instead.

Thirteen applications have been approved for substitution so far, seven of them mining proposals, according to info supplied by the province’s Ministry of Environment.

The duplication of the process and sometimes even the lack of clarity regarding what’s in and what’s out of each review does create confusion and unnecessary delays.—Karina Briño, president/CEO
of the Mining Association of B.C.

Substitution wasn’t the streamlined ideal hoped for by the Mining Association of B.C., says president/CEO Karina Briño. But “in the absence of legislative change, we have been advocating for substitution. The duplication of the process and sometimes even the lack of clarity regarding what’s in and what’s out of each review does create confusion and unnecessary delays. So we do feel very strongly there can be one well-articulated process with the necessary scope to meet the requirements of both jurisdictions.”

Environmental assessments also require companies to address issues such as native heritage, land rights and potential land rights. That’s as it should be, the MABC believes. “We’ve always supported a process that does examine proposals not only from a technical perspective but also from a socio-economic lens…. What we would like to see is more consistency from a federal/provincial level with the same concepts applied,” Briño explains.

“What we’re looking for is clarity in terms of the review’s scope, its timeline, the level of information required to meet the duty to consult,” she adds. “What we don’t think is very constructive—and it does create a lot of uncertainty on the ground—is when the rules of the game change halfway through…. In the process of assessing the impact on the environment and on aboriginals, it’s very important for the industry to know the scope of both those aspects will not change halfway through the process.”

Meanwhile Taseko has levelled strong accusations at Ottawa. “We are challenging the federal government on a couple of different fronts regarding the federal assessment of New Prosperity,” VP of corporate affairs Brian Battison says.

The original Prosperity proposal met strong native opposition largely due to a plan to drain the 118-hectare Fish Lake for use as a tailings facility. That was key to Ottawa’s first rejection in November 2010. Taseko then submitted a multi-million-dollar revision called New Prosperity, which the company said would save the lake by relocating the tailings. Natives, represented by the Tsilhqot’in National Government, still objected. Ottawa delivered its second rejection in February 2014.

Since then the company has requested one judicial review to examine Taseko’s charge that the federally appointed assessment panel considered a mine plan different than New Prosperity. The other judicial review will examine Taseko’s claim that the government based its decision on the faulty assessment, disregarding the company’s warning. That review will also look at Taseko’s claims that the government and its officials held secret meetings with project opponents. The lawsuit seeks compensation.

Taseko’s allegations have yet to be heard in court. Battison expects dates to be set soon for both judicial reviews.

The company also plans to file a notice of work with the province, allowing Taseko to gather site info “primarily to address questions that were raised during the federal environmental assessment,” Battison says. As part of that process the company stated it “looks forward to working with the six local Tsilhqot’in First Nation bands as represented by the Tsilhqot’in National Government….”

That suggests considerable optimism on the company’s part. In 2014 Tsilhqot’in chiefs attributed Ottawa’s Prosperity/New Prosperity decisions to “an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.”

But reserves containing 11 million ounces of gold and 4.2 billion pounds of copper—the continent’s largest undeveloped gold-copper porphyry—evidently encourage persistence.

Hunter Dickinson-backed Taseko battles Chicago private equity firm

May 6th, 2016

by SmallCapPower.com | May 6, 2016

As far as proxy battles go, it doesn’t get much nastier than this. In one corner is the management of Taseko Mines TSX:TKO, which has the backing of Hunter Dickinson. In the other is Raging River Capital, the dissidents, a Chicago-based private equity and investment firm which wants to replace the current board of directors with its own slate of nominees.

Hunter Dickinson-backed Taseko battles Chicago private equity firm

Taseko’s flagship is its 75%-owned Gibraltar,
Canada’s second-largest open pit copper mine.

Taseko’s flagship asset is its 75%-owned Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine in British Columbia, the second-largest open pit copper mine in Canada, which produced a record 142 million pounds of copper in 2015. The company also owns the Florence copper project, an advanced-staged development project in Arizona, which it acquired when it bought Curis Resources in 2014.

Interesting upside for Taseko could come from its Aley niobium project in northern British Columbia, the third-largest niobium deposit in the world, which the company purchased for $5.4 million in 2007. After the company invested $30 million into exploration and development work, it claims the project has an $860-million net present value.

Niobium is used primarily in the manufacturing of high-strength, light-weight and corrosion-resistant steel. Brazil has a dominant share (about 85%) of the world’s niobium output. Despite the fact that Aley’s grades are about one-third of those found in Brazil, it would offer up a new supply source for North American buyers, although the project’s remote access could be a problem.

Weighing on Taseko’s stock price during the past few years, in addition to falling commodities prices, has been the First Nations and Canadian government’s opposition to the company’s New Prosperity project in British Columbia, a large gold-copper porphyry deposit.

Continue reading this article on SmallCapPower.com.

Controversial ex-environment minister joins TMAC board of directors

March 15th, 2016

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.

How Long Blues

February 23rd, 2016

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

by Greg Klein

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

Mineral explorers in Canada generally wait longer than before for permits, the Fraser Institute reports.
Chart: The Fraser Institute

A country’s mineral output doesn’t necessarily correspond to its geological endowment, a new study reminds us. Other factors also play a role, among them exploration permitting. In many parts of Canada, that early but crucial step towards finding a new mine faces growing wait times, questionable transparency and increasing uncertainty. Those are some of the findings of a Fraser Institute study released February 23. The first-time survey, focusing on this one issue and limited to Canadian jurisdictions, arrives a week before the institute’s annual global survey of miners and explorers.

“This is a topic for which we’ve received feedback both in previous years’ surveys and in conversations we’ve had with explorers, and it’s something they consistently note to us as a growing problem,” says Taylor Jackson, an institute policy analyst and report co-author along with Kenneth Green.

It’s a growing problem in more ways than one. But there’s considerable variation between some jurisdictions, with Saskatchewan shining brightly while Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut look relatively gloomy. And although it’s slowing, Canadian permitting’s still faster than the global average.

Survey answers came from 122 people reporting on 10 jurisdictions. (Alberta, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island drew too few responses to be included.) Five jurisdictions had the majority saying that permitting times had lengthened over the last decade. Those who reported shorter wait times were the minority. But a slim majority of Newfoundland and Labrador respondents (56%) said wait times had stayed the same.

Saskatchewan, which ranked #2 in last year’s global survey, drew the smallest proportion of complaints (27%) about lengthening wait times.

Of Canada’s three biggest exploration targets, Ontario provoked more wait time pessimism than British Columbia or Quebec. Fourteen percent of Ontario explorers forecast waits of 11 to 14 months, compared to B.C.’s 2% and Quebec’s 3%. Another 7% of Ontario explorers anticipated waiting over two years for a permit, compared to another 2% in B.C. and 3% in Quebec.

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

A 1983 study found that mineral production in Western countries correlated poorly with geological riches. More recently, about 60% of Fraser Institute respondents say
they base their investment decisions on geology. The rest
cite policy-related factors. Image: The Fraser Institute

Transparency arises as another critical issue. “When explorers do not understand what the rules are or how they are applied, the result can be a deterrent to investment,” the report states.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan drew the highest proportions of respondents (50% and 47% respectively) saying the jurisdiction’s transparency actually encourages exploration. Moreover, the results were mostly positive when combining those who said a jurisdiction’s transparency encourages exploration with those who at least said that transparency concerns didn’t create a deterrent. Only the NWT flunked that one with a dismal 31%, while neighbouring Nunavut got 50%.

Saskatchewan came out on top with 94%, followed by New Brunswick (83%), Newfoundland and Labrador (78%) and Quebec (71%).

Although respondents remained confidential, they weren’t given the chance to express open-ended comments, as the institute’s global survey allows. Jackson says that could change if the survey’s repeated in future years.

The next time we might open it up to Australia and U.S. and get some feedback on how Australian and American states are performing, with the idea of determining who’s got the best practices and make some policy recommendations for Canada.—Taylor Jackson, Fraser Institute policy analyst and report co-author

Nor does the study report specific problems or make recommendations. This initial effort focused on “identifying which jurisdictions are performing well and which are not,” he explains. “The next time we might open it up to Australia and U.S. and get some feedback on how Australian and American states are performing, with the idea of determining who’s got the best practices and make some policy recommendations for Canada.”

Confidentiality’s the key to companies’ candour. So a similar survey about mine permitting would be problematic, Jackson points out. With mine proposals far fewer than exploration projects, governments might suss out who said what.

“But this is an issue that we would like to look at,” he says. “I don’t know if we’d do it in a survey form but it’s certainly an issue for setting up a mine as well.”

Two weeks ago Taseko Mines TSX:TKO launched a lawsuit alleging serious breaches of transparency in the federal process that rejected the company’s proposed New Prosperity mine. Pacific Booker Minerals TSXV:BKM has filed Freedom of Information requests with the B.C. government regarding its rejection of the proposed Morrison mine. The company had previously taken the province to court over the matter.

The institute’s study follows a January report from the Northern Policy Institute examining why “a major mining boom” with nine potential operations in northwestern Ontario failed to materialize.

Do studies like these influence the people who matter?

“I do know that decision-makers are listening to what’s said in the survey,” Jackson responds. “I can say that about the broader mining survey. We have some general examples where politicians have come and talked to us and we’ve seen policy reform later. They take the survey and it helps them identify which areas they’re performing poorly in, so I think they are listening. I don’t know if the message gets across all the time but I would say they are listening.”

Here are Canada’s rankings from last year’s international survey, with their global position in parentheses:

  • Saskatchewan (2)
  • Manitoba (4)
  • Quebec (6)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (8)
  • Yukon (9)
  • Northwest Territories (15)
  • New Brunswick (21)
  • Alberta (22)
  • Ontario (23)
  • British Columbia (28)
  • Nunavut (29)
  • Nova Scotia (42)

PEI wasn’t included. The institute’s 2015 global survey comes out March 1.

Download Permit Times for Mining Exploration: How Long Are They?

Taseko sues Ottawa

February 12th, 2016

B.C. miner says feds favoured opponents before rejecting New Prosperity

by Greg Klein

The Canadian government acted unlawfully to reject a mine proposal, according to a lawsuit filed February 11 by Taseko Mines TSX:TKO. Senior federal officials hosted undisclosed meetings with project opponents, showed them draft documents and allowed them to provide submissions that weren’t divulged to the company or public, Taseko maintains. Canada’s environment minister and federal cabinet relied on those submissions in their decision to reject New Prosperity, a $1.5-billion copper-gold open pit proposed for south-central British Columbia, the company further stated.

At least some of the federal authorities involved “knew that their actions or omissions were unlawful,” according to the claim.

B.C. miner says feds favoured opponents before rejecting proposal

Named as defendants are Canada’s Attorney General and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Those allegedly involved include former environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, her parliamentary secretary, five deputy or former deputy ministers, as well as the president and four employees of the CEAA.

Although the alleged actions would have happened while the Conservatives held office, the new Liberal government “would be responsible for the acts of the previous government in our view,” Taseko counsel John J.L. Hunter tells ResourceClips.com.

Damages weren’t specified. “There have been an awful lot of dollars spent on this that have gone to naught,” Hunter says—over $130 million according to the document.

Taseko operates Canada’s second-largest open pit, the Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine, also in south-central B.C., in which the company holds a 75% stake.

New Prosperity, on the other hand, has been a focus of strong native opposition. A redesign of a former project that passed the provincial assessment but met federal rejection in 2010, New Prosperity added $300 million to the capex to move its tailings facility and avoid draining a 118-hectare lake. The proposal underwent a two-year review that included 24 days of public hearings in 2013. A CEAA-appointed panel found significant adverse environmental effects in three areas. But the panel “recommended mitigation measures to address the anticipated adverse environmental effects on Tsilqot’in archeological and historical resources,” Taseko’s claim states.

Nevertheless rejection came from the minister and cabinet in late February 2014. Tsilhqot’in chiefs said the 2010 and 2014 decisions resulted from “an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.”

Taseko claims that, between the panel completing its report and the feds announcing their decision, senior officials including deputy ministers and Aglukkaq’s parliamentary secretary held undisclosed meetings with opponents and accepted their written submissions. The company says its requests to attend any such meetings and review additional input were rebuffed. The last few meetings took place just two weeks before Aglukkaq released her decision, Taseko alleges, and opponents “provided input on draft conditions for the decision statement.”

[The 2010 and 2014 decisions resulted from] an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.—Tsilhqot’in chiefs comment
on the proposal’s rejection

The company learned of the meetings through Facebook, spokesperson Brian Battison told ResourceClips.com.

Among previous complaints from Taseko, the company says Natural Resources Canada studied a tailings storage design different from the proposed plan. The CEAA included the NRC study in its review. That allegation will be among procedural and fairness concerns examined by two judicial reviews that Taseko has already launched.

“There’s some overlap in the claims but the remedies that could be obtained are quite different from judicial review and from civil action,” Hunter explains. He anticipates the judicial reviews being heard this year but the lawsuit will likely take longer to come to court.

The defendants have yet to respond to Taseko’s allegations, which haven’t been proven.

The lawsuit opens a new chapter in a long, discouraging tale. But earlier this month the Mining Association of Canada lauded efforts that have brought about 265 active agreements between miners and native communities, as well as joint ventures, training, employment and other collaboration. “These serve as a testament to the ongoing development of progressive relationships between mining companies and aboriginal communities,” commented MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton.

The group called for more jurisdictions to adopt government revenue-sharing programs for native bands affected by mining projects. B.C. did so in 2010, but that failed to sway the Tsilhqot’in National Government. Quebec, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the three territories have also implemented revenue-sharing for natives.

While Taseko’s lawsuit attempts to hold the current government accountable for alleged actions before it came to power, the Liberals campaigned on a promise to overhaul the environmental review process. The new regime’s stated goal is to “ensure that decisions are based on science, facts and evidence, and serve the public’s interest.”

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