First Nations Exult as Canadian Government Rejects Taseko's New Prosperity Mine
First Nations across Canada on February 27 were lauding the federal government’s final rejection of a mining proposal that would have destroyed Tsilhquot’in sacred lands and caused untold environmental damage.
“We are celebrating this decision to reject once again this terrible project, which threatened our pristine waters, fish and aboriginal rights,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government, in a statement. “We commend the federal government for not bowing to industry lobbying and instead respecting the science and the independent process which came to the conclusion that this project would have devastating impacts on the environment and our Nation’s ability to practice our rights in a sacred spiritual site. These impacts could not be mitigated.”
The battle had been waged since 1995, when Taseko Mines Ltd.’s initial proposal to mine gold and copper in the ecologically sensitive area of British Columbia was first rejected. A second proposal was rejected in 2010, also for environmental reasons. The main objection was that the plan called for destroying sacred Fish Lake and turning it into a tailings pond. Nearby Little Fish Lake would not have fared much better.
Taseko resubmitted its plan in 2011, calling it the New Prosperity Mine and including measures to preserve Fish Lake. The mine would have inhabited the Fish Creek watershed, which includes the two Fish lakes and drains into the Taseko River, according to Mining Weekly. First Nations groups solidly backed the Tsilhquot’in in their opposition.
The February 26 decision had similar objections to the earlier rejections.
“The Minister of the Environment has concluded that the New Prosperity Mine project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated,” Canada’s Environment Ministry, headed by Leona Aglukkaq, said in a statement. “The Governor in Council has determined that those effects are not justified in the circumstances; therefore, the project may not proceed.”
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