Taseko Mines Ltd. has resubmitted its environmental application for the Prosperity Mine near Williams Lake to the federal government, with a new plan that avoids draining a lake to get at the copper and gold deposit.
In a statement released Monday, Taseko CEO Russell Hallbauer said the price of copper and gold has nearly doubled since his company began its studies in 2005. The rising price of metals has allowed the company to budget an additional $300 million for construction and and operating costs for the life of the mine. The revised plan preserves Fish Lake, which was proposed to be drained and replaced with an artificial lake to mitigate the habitat loss.
The Tsilhqot’in National Government and member aboriginal bands gained national support for their objections, and last November the federal government refused to issue an environmental permit for the project.
“Our initiative to preserve Fish Lake and accommodate the concerns of the federal government and First Nations communities is a major commitment and undertaking by Taseko,” Hallbauer said. “We look forward to working with all levels of government, First Nations communities, the City of Williams Lake and with the Cariboo Regional District on moving this project forward in the coming months.”
The B.C. Liberal government issued an environmental permit for the project, and criticized the federal process for not considering the economic benefits. B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark promised to lobby the federal government to reconsider, prompting an angry response from aboriginal leaders.
“Does Christy Clark see Russia from her living room window?” asked Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president Stewart Phillip, comparing Clark’s support of the mine to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s slogan “drill baby drill.”
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