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UPDATE: Chronology of Tsilhqot’in vs Taseko over the past several weeks

There have been some major recent developments with respect to the Tsilhqot’in’s struggle to defend Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Y’anah Biny (Little Fish lake), and Nabas (the surrounding area) over the past several weeks.

August 26: The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency receives Taseko Mines Limited’s project description for the Prosperity mine and begins a process to decide if there will be another federal environmental assessment of the project first rejected on November 2, 2010.

September 29: Five weeks before it was even known if there would be a second federal environmental assessment of Taseko’s new proposal, the British Columbia Ministry of Mines granted an approval (Notice of Work) to Taseko for extensive work throughout the project area including: the excavation of 59 test pits; geotechnical and diamond drilling and the construction of a 23.5 km dirt road.

October 31: According to court documents, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued an approval (2011 Occupant Licence to Cut) to Taseko, which allows the company to clear an estimated 1048 cubic metres of timber.

November 7: The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ruled that the New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine project will undergo a new environmental assessment.

November 10: The Tsilhqot’in filed an application for a judicial review in the Supreme Court of B.C to invalidate or suspend the work permits issued to Taseko by the provincial government, on the grounds that they were not properly consulted and their serious concerns were ignored.

November 12: Taseko claims it was illegally stopped from entering the project site. “Wishing to avoid a confrontation, Taseko employees turned the equipment convoy around and did not pursue the work they were permitted to undertake,” said Russell Hallbauer, Taseko president and CEO. Workers were planning to start extensive exploratory work, which includes roadbuilding, drilling, excavation of test pits and timber clearing. In contrast to this version of events, a report from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network said Baptiste had peaceful discussions with Taseko employees through several RCMP officers and they agreed to turn around. She pulled up next to the convoy and told RCMP officers in a cruiser that the Taseko contractors and employees would not be welcome on Tsilhqot’in Nation territory.

November 14: “As a result of this confrontation, Taseko has initiated legal proceedings against the individuals – Emery Phillips, Marie William, Marilyn Baptiste and three others – responsible for the obstruction and is seeking an order restraining them, or any other individuals, from unlawfully interfering with the company’s lawfully approved work.”

November 14: The nation filed an injunction against Taseko in B.C. Supreme Court to stop the company from undertaking exploratory work, in support of a resubmitted proposal for the new Prosperity Mine.

November 18: During a related court hearing, the Council of Canadians rallied outside the BC Law Courts to stand solidarity with the Tsilhqot’in Nation in defence of their land, water and right to self-determination.

The Council of Canadians continues to stand with the Tsilhqot’in Nation – which includes the Xeni Gwet’in, Tl’esqoxt’in, Yunesit’in, Tl’etinqox, Tsi Del Del, and Ulkatcho communities – in defence of Teztan Biny, Y’anah Biny, and Nabas. In May 2010, anticipating that the first federal review panel would approve the destruction of Fish Lake, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tsilhqot’in to protect this lake.”

For additional background, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4501.

*The chronology is drawn from the text of a Journal of Commerce article by Richard Gilbert, http://www.journalofcommerce.com/article/id47619/–battle-over-proposed-copper-and-gold-mine-heats-up.