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Taseko Mines files injunction against federal review panel findings

Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Ltd. has filed an application for a judicial review to quash the findings of a federal review panel that was tasked with making a recommendation about the proposed New Prosperity Mine to the Harper government.

In November 2010, the company’s original Prosperity Mine proposal was rejected by another environmental review panel. In June 2011, Taseko submitted their New Prosperity mine proposal. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency had never before considered a revised and resubmitted proposal for a mine that had been rejected, but in November 2011 they did just that. CBC noted at that time that the review panel would consist of a group of independent experts selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise and appointed by the minister of the environment Peter Kent. In November 2013, the federal review panel concluded the proposed copper-gold mine “would result in several significant adverse environmental effects” notably with respect to water quality, fish habitat, land use, and the cultural heritage of the Tsilhqot’in Nation. 

Today, the Globe and Mail reports, “After a second public hearing process, the report last month by the federal Canadian Environment Assessment Agency said it did not believe Taseko’s design for the project could avoid contaminating nearby Fish Lake. The survival of the lake was at the centre of the original rejection.” 

The Vancouver Sun further explains, “The company’s original plan, which would have drained Fish Lake and stored waste rock and dirt on the dry lake bed, was rejected in 2010 by a federal panel due to ‘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,’ as well as adverse cumulative effects on grizzly bears in the south Chilcotin. …Under the new plan, waste rock and dirt will now be trucked and stored north of Fish Lake. A tailings pond, which will store potentially acid-producing mill waste, will be moved upstream two kilometres from Fish Lake. The new plan will alter the watershed’s natural drainage. The tailings pond will limit water flow into Fish Lake, and the outflow of the lake will be cut off by the open mine pit downstream.”

But in its application filed yesterday in Vancouver, the company says the panel “based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard to the material before it”.

The Council of Canadians presented in both the first and second review panel hearings on Taseko’s mine.

The Harper government is expected to make its decision about the mine in February 2014.

Further reading
Government must reject Taseko Mines proposal once and for all, says the Council of Canadians
Council of Canadians supports the Tsilhqot’in Nation at the Supreme Court of Canada
Council of Canadians rejects Taseko’s revised Prosperity Mine proposal
WIN! Review panel concludes mine would harm Fish Lake