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NEWS: Taseko gets a Kent-chosen panel to review Fish Lake mine proposal

CBC reports this hour that, “Taseko Mines will get a second kick at the can for its gold and copper mine at Fish Lake, BC. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ordered a new federal review (late on) Monday of the company’s proposal for the New Prosperity Mine… The review panel will be a group of independent experts selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise and appointed by the minister of the environment (Peter Kent). The assessment that (then-environment minister Jim) Prentice based his judgment (against the mine) was a comprehensive study. Those studies are conducted by CEAA staff in collaboration with environmental experts from various federal departments.”

The CEAA has never before considered a proposal that had already been turned down by a federal review panel, then modified and resubmitted. But this past June, Taseko submitted their revised plan for consideration. At that time, the Council of Canadians stated that the new plan still threatened Little Fish Lake and Fish Creek which are connected to Fish Lake. This past August, Prime Minister Harper defended the practice of allowing mines to dump their toxic tailings into freshwater lakes. He said, “Obviously, when you dig holes here you create some environmental issues and those have to be addressed, but that can’t stop development…”

On November 2, 2010, a CEAA review panel turned down Taseko’s proposal for its ‘New Prosperity’ mine given it “would result in significant adverse environmental effects on fish and fish habitat, on navigation, on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by First Nations and on cultural heritage, and on certain potential or established Aboriginal rights or title”. The Council of Canadians had presented to that panel in on March 22, 2010 and expressed strong concerns about the danger to water systems by the project.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government, on whose land the mine would be constructed and the lakes destroyed, has consistently opposed the mine. A media just released states, “The Tsilhqot’in Nation reacted today with anger, frustration, bewilderment and disappointment to the announcement that the already rejected Prosperity Mine proposal will proceed to another review. …Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said: ‘To avoid duplication and reduce costs, CEAA must re-appoint the same review panel members.’ …Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Chief Marilyn Baptiste added: ‘The government is still required under the Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to reject the proposal to protect our rights.'”

MEDIA RELEASE: Tsilhqot’in Angry and Alarmed by Decision to Review dead Prosperity Mine project, Tsilhqot’in National Government, November 7, 2011

The Council of Canadians continues to stand in solidarity with the Tsilhqot’in.