The Tsilhqot'in Nation has gone to court in an attempt to block Taseko Mines Ltd. from doing any preparatory work on its controversial new Prosperity mine in British Columbia's Cariboo region.
In a petition filed with the B.C. Supreme Court, the First Nations group asks the court to halt any drilling, excavation, timber clearing, road construction and the like while reviewing provincial approvals for the work on a revised mine plan.
In seeking the court review, the petition says provincial government officials should have consulted with the Tsilhqot'in before the approvals were granted.
Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot'in National Government, said the decision affects the group's rights and culture.
“The province refused to acknowledge these impacts, no matter what we say; it is more concerned with handing over approvals,” Chief Alphonse said in a statement.
“We've gone to court before, we've stood in front of the federal panel, we have proven over and over again how important these lands are to our people and our culture — but the province never seems to get the message.”
Several First Nations in the B.C. Interior oppose the project because the original mine proposal would have seen the destruction of a lake considered culturally significant to them.
On Monday, the federal Environmental Assessment Agency agreed to review a revised proposal for the Prosperity mine after having rejected a plan last year that would have turned a lake into a tailings pond. The new plan would see Taseko spend an extra $300 million to address the main concerns of the last review, including the preservation of Fish Lake.
Taseko spokesman Brian Battison said Friday the company sought approval for the work in May and it was granted by the province in August.
The work covered by the approvals was related to the revised plan and the new location for the tailings pond.
“We need some geological information around where the dam is to be located, so this information is needed to inform the environmental assessment,” Mr. Battison said.
Taseko reported Wednesday a profit of $30 million in its third quarter, up from a profit of $728,000 a year ago, as revenue more than doubled to $84.2 million from $37.5 million. The results included a $48.3-million unrealized gain on copper derivatives due to the hedges compared with a $5-million unrealized loss on copper derivatives a year ago.
Excluding one-time factors, Taseko reported adjusted earnings of $4.3 million, down from $6.3 million in the third quarter of 2010.