10 Reasons to Reject “New” Prosperity

  1. The federal review panel process was very different from the BC EAO rubber-stamp decision. The independent federal panel found immitigable, devastating impacts to local fish and fish habitat and endangered grizzly populations, to Tsilhqot’in cultural activities and heritage, and to the proven and asserted Aboriginal rights of the Tsilhqot’in people. Then Environment Minister Jim Prentice described the Panel’s report as “scathing” and “probably the most condemning I have ever read.”
  2. The company argued through the entire previous review that preserving Teztan Biny – which is now central to its revised proposal – is simply not possible.  Taseko Mines Ltd.’s (TML’s) V.P. Corporate Affairs, Brian Battison, was clear in his Mar. 22, 2010, opening presentation to the panel hearings, when he stated: “Developing Prosperity means draining Fish Lake. We wish it were otherwise. We searched hard for a different way. A way to retain the lake and have the mine. But there is no viable alternative. The lake and the deposit sit side by side. It is not possible to have one without the loss of the other.”
  3. In fact, TML argued in the previous hearings that Teztan Biny would be contaminated over time even if it were “preserved” and the tailings storage facility was moved upstream, as now proposed.  TML’s VP of Engineering, Scott Jones, stated: “What happens to the water quality in Fish Lake, if you try and preserve that body of water with the tailings facility right up against it, is that over time the water quality in Fish Lake will become equivalent to the water quality in the pore water of the tailings facility, particularly when it’s close.  You might be able to delay that by moving the tailings facility farther away to Fish Creek south.  You may even be able to minimize that, reduce it by mitigation measures that could be applied.  But eventually that water quality will change.
  4. This proposal does not address the issues that led to the rejection of the previous application in 2010. Fish Lake will be affected by serious risk of contamination, seepage, and draining of the lake.  The lake would be surrounded by a massive open pit mine and related infrastructure for decades. Tsilhqot’in people would avoid using this entire area for cultural and spiritual practices because of concerns about contamination and because of the heavy industrialization of an area that is highly valued for its remoteness and relatively pristine state.
  5. “New” Prosperity is not even new. It is essentially the same as “Mine Development Plan 2.” TML states on page 20 of its project description: “Option 2 is the basis for the New Prosperity design …The concepts that lead to the configuration of MDP Option 2 have been utilized to develop the project description currently being proposed.”
  6. Mine Development Plan 2 was considered in the previous review and described as an “even greater longterm environmental risk” by the company, Environment Canada and the federal review panel. At page 65 of the Panel’s report, it states: “The Panel agrees with the observations made by Taseko and Environment Canada that Mine Development Plans 1 and 2 would result in greater long-term environmental risk than the preferred alternative.”
  7. The new $300 million in proposed spending is to cover the costs of relocating mine waste a little further away. According to the company’s own statements, little if any of the additional cost appears directed at mitigating the environmental impacts identified in the previous assessment. TML states: “The new development design, predicated on higher long term prices for both copper and gold, would result in a direct increase in capital costs of $200 million to purchase additional mining equipment to relocate the tailings dam and to move the mine waste around Fish Lake to new locations. This redesign also adds $100 million in direct extra operating costs over the 20-year mine life to accomplish that task.” In fact, this new spending is actually $37 million less than the company said in the previous review that it would cost to proceed with Mine Development Plan 2 – the option that the company and the review panel agreed posed a greater longterm risk to the environment than the one rejected.
  8. The federal government is required under the Constitution to protect First Nations, which have been found to be under serious threat in this case, and is internationally committed to do so under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These minimum standards are every bit as demanding with regard to this resubmitted proposal and are being monitored by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  9. Approving this mine would signal that federal environmental assessment process lacks integrity, and would demonstrate to First Nations that governments lack commitment to the cultural survival of First Nations and the protection of proven Aboriginal rights – as the Assembly of First Nations national chiefs-in-assembly made crystal clear in its 2011 resolution in support for the Tsilhqot’in.
  10. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has raised serious concerns about this project since it was first raised in the 1990s.  The Federal Government soundly rejected the Prosperity mine in 2010. It cannot support it now. This is especially the case since Environment Canada, in the previous review, identified Mine Development Plan 2 – the basis for “New” Prosperity – as an even greater environmental risk than the rejected Prosperity project, a position with which the Panel and ultimately the Federal Government agreed.