Time for Taseko Mines to Admit Mine Plan Won't Work

Panel Finds Major Deficiencies with New Prosperity Proposal

WILLIAMS LAKE, BC, Dec. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - The independent Panel reviewing the controversial New Prosperity mine project has told Taseko Mines Limited that major deficiencies with the proposal must be addressed before the Panel can consider proceeding to public hearings, but Tsilhqot'in National Government is calling on the company to stop wasting everyone's time and withdraw its obviously shoddy proposal.

"We agree with the Panel," said Tsilhqot'in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse, "Government regulators also said that the company has not backed up its claims that it can somehow 'save' Teztan Biny in the middle of an open-pit mining operation.  Our position is that this proposal does not stand up, it will not save Teztan Biny and it would still mean the same devastating impacts for our culture and our communities".

"Only weeks after its Prosperity proposal was rejected, this company started claiming it could now save Teztan Biny and deal with all the impacts that doomed the last proposal," said Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation, "Well, the Panel and the governments have now said there are serious deficiencies in those claims.  It seems to us that the company has put its efforts into pushing through a second proposal as fast as it can, without doing the homework to see if it can actually back up its proposal".

Taseko Mines Ltd., by its own admission, has spent many years and more than $100 million of investors' dollars working on this project, despite being advised of serious concerns with the project in 1995 by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Governments and the Tsilhqot'in Nation, among other First Nations, have exhausted valuable time and finances to deal with a failed, destructive massive open pit proposal to process low grade ores.

With all these years of work to draw on, and a clear set of instructions  provided in February as to what information was needed, the company submitted a draft EIS several months ago that federal and provincial regulators found widely deficient in a scathing letter that listed almost 250 criticisms of missing, false, poorly written and illegible information.

Rather than seriously address all these concerns, the company submitted a quickly revised EIS on September 27, 2012.  Several federal and provincial departments again identified major deficiencies with the EIS, several relating to the company's claims that it could save Teztan Biny. The Panel itself has now identified major deficiencies. When the Panel identified a serious issue with the EIS two weeks ago and asked Taseko Mines Ltd. to address it, the company responded by saying the Panel was wrong and the company did not have to fix the deficiency.  The Panel ordered the company again to address the deficiency.

The attached analysis by MiningWatch Canada summarizes deficiencies in the EIS identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Health Canada , Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada (TC), and the BC Ministries of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Energy and Mines and Natural Gas, and the Environment.

Given that the BC government approved the first Prosperity Mine proposal, and that Premier Christy Clark has supported the new bid and even called for the original federal rejection to be over turned, it is telling that even the province's own ministries are critical of the company's latest proposal.

Responses on the Project Registry also include a critique of Taseko Mines' assessment of First Nations impacts by Ms. Ehrhart-English, who was hired by the company to prepare its Aboriginal cultural heritage study for the area in the 1990s.  In her statement to the Panel, the company's own expert states, "Little Fish Lake is the area in which most of the traditional activities have taken place ... I am very surprised that they would attempt to propose to place a tailings pond on … one of the most important cultural areas in the entire … study area".

"It is time for TML to stop wasting our time and money, taxpayers' money and its own investors' dollars and walk away from this project. Had it done that when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans raised serious concerns in 1995, we would all be much better off today.  As it stands now, they are making a mockery of the environmental assessment process," said Chief Alphonse.

SOURCE: Tsilhqot'in National Government

For further information:

Media contacts: 

Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair: 250-305-8282
Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Xeni Gwet`in: 250-394-7023

Attached: MiningWatch Canada summary of and links to responses to Taseko Mines second EIS (http://www.miningwatch.ca/sites/www.miningwatch.ca/files/mw_review_of_new_prosperity_eis_sufficiency_submissions_dec_6.pdf)