Review of Prosperity Mine Rebid must be swift and transparent

Evidence already proves it cannot be accepted

SODA CREEK, BC, Nov. 7, 2011 /CNW/ - BC's First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) today joined the Tsilhqot'in Nation in denouncing the unnecessary review of the Prosperity Mine rebid.

"There can be no doubt that this is one of the worst projects, pursued in the worst way - we are being forced to waste time and money on a proposal that the company itself has clearly admitted is worse than the plan that was rejected a year ago," said FNWARM Chair Bev Sellars, Chief of the Xat'sull (Soda Creek) First Nation.

"We can only hope this review is based on a technicality and that it will be dealt with quickly through a transparent public review by the same panel that studied the first project. As long as the decision is based on facts - not spin or unchallenged false claims - this project cannot be approved," said Chief Sellars.

Chief Sellars said that after 17 years of the company trying to push through this project despite being clearly told by federal authorities and others that it could never be approved, it is time to put a permanent end to this disastrous fiasco so that First Nations can focus on working with industry and government to reform the mining system to create certainty of process and fairness.

"It makes no sense for companies and their investors to waste tens of millions of dollars and many years on projects that should never have been developed, and which First Nations and others have no choice but to oppose because they are so bad or unfair," said  Chief Sellars.

"The best thing that Premier Christy Clark can do if she wants to see mines opened in BC is to work with First Nations and the industry to develop a reformed system that prevents wrong projects from being pursued and creates an agreed-on process that allows us to identify and pursue the right projects in the right way," Chief Sellars said.

Chief Sellars noted the Association for Mineral Exploration BC and the Mining Association of BC said during an FNWARM forum on the industry's future that they want a clear process, too, and that the province needs to bring everyone to the table.

"We might not yet agree on how to reform the staking and tenure system, the discredited BC EA process and engage in genuine land-use planning and decision-sharing, but there is agreement that change is needed and that we need to start talking," said Chief Sellars.

"The damage that approval for the Prosperity Mine project would inflict on the credibility of the EA process and the honour of the Crown in terms of protecting First Nations rights cannot be overstated. We need this confrontational Prosperity Mine proposal laid to rest so that we can work on building trust and good relationships."

Attachment: Ten facts that show why Prosperity Mine rebid will be rejected.

253 - 4th Avenue North s Williams Lake, BC V2G 4T4 s Phone (250) 392-3918 s Fax (250) 398-5798

Ten facts that show why Prosperity Mine rebid will be rejected

  1. The CEAA review panel process was very different from the BC EAO rubber-stamp decision. Its report found immitigable, devastating impacts to the local fish stocks and endangered grizzly populations, and to the existing and future rights of the Tsilhqot'in and its youth. Then Environment Minister Jim Prentice described the report's findings as "scathing" and "probably the most condemning I have ever read."

  2. The company knows its new option is worse than its first plan. TML's V.P. Corporate Affairs, Brian Battison, was clear in his Mar. 22, 2010, opening presentation to the CEAA hearings, when he stated: "Developing Prosperity means draining Fish Lake.  We wish it were otherwise.  We searched hard for a different way. A way to retain the lake and have the mine.  But there is no viable alternative.  The lake and the deposit sit side by side.  It is not possible to have one without the loss of the other."

  3. The point was emphasised by TML's VP of engineering, Scott Jones, who stated: "What happens to the water quality in Fish Lake, if you try and preserve that body of water with the tailings facility right up against it, is that over time the water quality in Fish Lake will become equivalent to the water quality in the pore water of the tailings facility, particularly when it's close."  

  4. This proposal does not address the issues that led to the rejection of the first bid last year. Fish Lake will be affected by the toxic waste and eventually die, and it will be surrounded by a massive open pit mine and related infrastructure for decades.  The Tsilhqot'in people will not have access to their spiritual place, and the area will never be returned to the current pristine state.

    It is not even new. It is "Mine Development Plan 2."  TML states on page 20 of its project submission: "Option 2 is the basis for the New Prosperity design …The concepts that lead to the configuration of MDP Option 2 have been utilized to develop the project description currently being proposed."

  5. This option was looked at and rejected last year by the company, Environment Canada and the CEAA review panel. For example, page 65 of the review report states:  "The Panel agrees with the observations made by Taseko and Environment Canada that Mine Development Plans 1 and 2 would result in greater long-term environmental risk than the preferred alternative."

  6. The new $300 million in proposed spending is to cover the costs of relocating mine waste a little further away. There is nothing in the 'new' plan to mitigate all the environmental impacts identified in the previous assessment. TML states in its economic statement: "The new development design, predicated on higher long term prices for both copper and gold, would result in a direct increase in capital costs of $200 million to purchase additional mining equipment to relocate the tailings dam and to move the mine waste around Fish Lake to new locations. This redesign also adds $100 million in direct extra operating costs over the 20-year mine life to accomplish that task." In fact, this new spending is actually $37 million less than the company said last year it would have to spend just to go with the option that it and the review panel agreed would be worse for the environment.

  7. The federal government is required under the Constitution to protect First Nations, which have been found to be under serious threat in this case, and is internationally committed to do so under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These duties are every bit as clear regarding this resubmitted proposal.

  8. Approving this mine would show the Environmental Assessment process is meaningless, and would demonstrate that governments are ignoring their obligations -  as the Assembly of First Nations  national chiefs-in-assembly made this crystal clear this summer in their resolution of support for the Tsilhqot'in.

  9. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has opposed this project since it was first raised in 1995. It soundly rejected it again last year. It has no reason to support it now. Nor does Environment Canada, which, as the CEAA report noted last year, also found option 2 to be worse than the original bid.

  10. There are many other more worthy projects to be pursued - the vast majority of which, if not all will require working with aboriginal communities. Natural Resources Canada estimates there is $350 billion-$500 billion worth of such potential projects in Canada.  Governments, industry and investors do not need to go backwards by pushing this confrontational proposal and rebuffing efforts by First Nations to find a way to create a better mining system that would benefit everyone in the long run.

SOURCE First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining

For further information:

Media contact: FNWARM Chair, Chief Bev Sellars: Ph: 250-989-2323. Cell: 250-267-6924

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