Taseko Mines Ltd proves it only cares about money - not the environment or rights
WILLIAMS LAKE, BC, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - Taseko Mine's Limited is playing costly and dangerous games with First Nations and all British Columbians in its cynical attempt to revive its so-called Prosperity mine, the Tsilhqot'in National Government said today.
"This latest move would be laughable, were the issue not so serious," said TNG Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse. "Enough is enough. It is time to put an end to this company wasting everybody's time and resources on a project that most now realize is a dead issue."
"This latest move by the company leaves little doubt now that its plan all along was to get the cheapest project it could. Now it is desperately trying to find any way it can to revive this project regardless of its impact on the environment and our First Nations rights," Chief Alphonse said.
"We commend the federal government for seeing through the company's claim and rejecting its first plan - which the company was told for 17 years was not acceptable - and we also commend Prime Minister Stephen Harper for standing firm on that decision this week," said TNG Xeni Gwet'in First Nation Chief Marilyn Baptiste.
"Hopefully the federal government, the soon-to-be-elected new provincial premier, and the public will quickly make it clear to Taseko Mines Ltd that this nonsense must end," said Chief Baptiste.
The latest move by Taseko is so cynical and fatally flawed that that it is hard to see how anyone can take it seriously, Chief Baptiste said.
The company has not consulted with First Nations or the public and it has kept the details secret. It continues to pretend that there is only one issue - the protection of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) - that needs to be addressed, when the CEAA review panel report and the federal government's own conclusions made it clear there was numerous and "scathing" problems with the project.
"It seems to think it can insult governments and the public by treating us all as fools with short memories," said Chief Baptiste.
"This company categorically insisted that - even with soaring gold and copper prices - its first proposal was the only economically viable one. It also categorically insisted that any other options for the project would be even more devastating to the environment and First Nations rights," said Chief Alphonse.
"Yet within weeks of its proposal being rejected last November 2, it claimed that it could now suddenly afford to go with an alternative that saved Fish Lake, and it is now hoping that everyone will forget that both it and the CEAA review panel report made it clear last year that any alternative to the original plan would be an even bigger disaster."
Taseko's new move is costly because it will force governments to spend tax dollars dealing with a clearly unacceptable bid, and could even see the province continue to pump tax dollars into promoting this project on Taseko's behalf.
It will also force First Nations, who have been on the front line of defending the land against this project, to continue to spend scarce resources that would be better spent on pursuing genuine and sustainable opportunity.
One also has to wonder how excited investors are about the company adding to the $100 million it has already wasted pursuing this doomed project over the last 17 years.
The rebid is dangerous because it seeks to avoid having another full review of the project and have governments accept the new plan as addressing all concerns. If it were to succeed, it would mean the strong federal EA process would be taken over by the weak and industry biased provincial process.
In effect, the company is seeking to undermine the entire process and set a precedent that will give companies a way to proceed with bad projects through the back door.
The new bid also diverts attention away from the real issues facing mining in BC, and the need to reform the mining system to ensure that the industry and first Nation and other governments can work together to identify and pursue good mining projects.
"The company and supporters such as provincial Mines Minster Randy Hawes and Liberal Leadership Candidate's Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon continue to act as if money is the only issue here." said Chief Baptiste.
"We are particularly offended that Mr. Hawes has once again implied we are holding out for money and that he will try to buy our support with benefit agreements," said Chief Baptiste.
"He knows full well that we will never accept this project and that for us that this is not about money. We are not willing to sell out the land, the water and our rights, future generations and way of life at any price. Period."For further information:
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair, TNG: 250.305.8282 or 250.394.4212
Chief Marilyn Baptiste: 250.267.1401 or 250.394.7023