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WIN! Harper government rejects the Prosperity Mine

An Environment Canada media release issued just now states, “the Prosperity mine project as proposed, near Williams Lake, cannot be granted federal authorizations to proceed due to concerns about the significant adverse environmental effects of the project. …In making its decision, the Government of Canada took into consideration the conclusions of the report of the Federal Review Panel, and agreed with the Panel’s conclusions about the environmental impacts of the project. “

The Canadian Press reports that, “The federal government has given the thumbs down to the proposed Prosperity Gold and Copper Mine in British Columbia’s central Interior. Environment Minister Jim Prentice says the cabinet has rejected the Taseko Mines Ltd., project because of its adverse environmental impact and the damage it would cause Fish Lake and dozens of connecting streams.”

Environment minister Jim Prentice said, “Fish Lake would be drained, and there would be the loss of all the associated wetlands and a number of streams. Really, it was the loss of the whole ecosystem, which was pretty pronounced in terms of its environmental effects. …The loss of the job opportunities is difficult, but at the end of the day we have a responsibility to strike an environmental process and to follow the recommendations. …(The federal review panel) essentially said there would be very significant environmental effects and there was no way that they could be remediated. That’s what’s driven this decision. …(The report) was scathing in its comments about the impact on the environment. It was, I would say, probably the most condemning report that I’ve seen. …There was a significant risk that this habitat could not be successfully reproduced through manmade substitutes. …Certainly we are concerned about the economic consequences obviously, and the company is at liberty to re-submit a proposal to try in some way to resolve or ameliorate the recommendations of the panel in terms of the environment.”

Taseko CEO Russell Hallbauer said in a statement that the company was “extremely disappointed by this decision, not only for our shareholders but for the communities that were relying on the development of Prosperity to help offset the economic situation in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. …The province said, given mitigation and the economic benefits for the region, that the project should proceed. The federal government, with that same information, took a different view. Perhaps Ottawa has less concern about economic development and employment in the Cariboo region than the province does.”

Tsilhqot’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste said, “We finally feel that someone listened. The panel did a good job – they heard our voices, they came out here on the land, they went to the sites. I am extremely happy, and extremely grateful. …I’m very, very excited to see that Jim Prentice has upheld (his) mandate and upheld the (assessors) who have heard directly from our people. …We’re honoured for the fact that our very being and our wildlife, our wild fish stocks are not under threat for a moment.” Percy Guichon, a Tsilhqoti’in chief, said, “This proposal could not have been more guaranteed to alienate first nations.” Chief Joe Alphonse said, “The federal government has honoured its constitutional duty to protect First Nations rights and its responsibility to protect the environment. The government should be commended for recognizing that this project did not represent the best way to create jobs and economic growth.”

The Council of Canadians congratulates the Tsilhqot’in National Government, and all individuals and groups that worked to stop the destruction of Fish Lake. We extend particular congratulations to John Dressler and the Williams Lake chapter of the Council of Canadians for their tireless work.

The Environment Canada media release is at http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=59F03FA9-63AD-4EED-A14F-04BBF32906CF. The Canadian Press reports are at http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20101102/bc_prosperity_rejected_101102/20101102?hub=BritishColumbiaHome and http://www.am1150.ca/News/National/Article.aspx?id=242918.