Taseko Mines Ltd. is trying its luck one more time. Several months after the federal government blocked the miner's plans to develop its Prosperity gold and copper project, the company has submitted a revised development plan.
The move has long been expected.
The government initially had concerns with the project's environmental effect on Fish Lake and the traditional use of the land and its resources by First Nations. (Taseko planned on draining the lake, and replacing it with a new, larger lake nearby.) Those issues have been addressed in the new plan. Taseko now intends to preserve the lake, which it says adds $300-million in capital and operating expenses to the project.
In a new report, Taseko said that at the time of its first proposal, adding that cost into the project simply wasn't economically viable. "Now, however, higher long-term prices for gold and copper are such that New Prosperity can directly address the concerns of the federal government." the company said in a statement.
Taseko said it has also worked with First Nations and supported independent impact studies that cost about $1-million.
The miner is devoting itself to this venture because its current operations are confined to its one Gibraltar project. Taseko is now developing the project's third phase, but rating agencies have noted the company needs to expand its revenue sources. "A single-mine company like Taseko could have its business severely curtailed with only a single negative operational event," Moody's said in a recent note.
Some shine has also been restored to Taseko after regulators recently cleared it following allegations of possible foul play in the trading of its stock. Three weeks before the federal government's decision to block Prosperity's development, shares of the company fell almost 40 per cent lower on trading volume eight times greater than the daily average in the previous trading week.
The B.C. Securities Commission looked into the matter but "found no basis for taking regulatory action." Before that, there were suggestions there may have been a leak from the federal government and the federal Liberals called for an RCMP probe.
The Prosperity project is located near Williams Lake, B.C.