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First Nations band requests private hearing in New Prosperity mine review

Former Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Chief Roger William stands at the edge of Fish Lake September 10, 2010 near Williams Lake, B.C.

JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail

Members of a First Nations band in B.C.'s Chilcotin have requested a private hearing as a federal review panel examines a proposed open pit mine near Williams Lake.

The Xeni Gwet'in want the session as they discuss identification of ancestral graves around the proposed New Prosperity gold-copper mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

The review panel holds hearings on the road this week, as it travels to First Nations communities around the huge mine, proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd.

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Critics fear the billion-dollar mine will destroy culturally significant Fish Lake, and they doubt Taseko's claim that the lake will be spared under a revised plan.

Although the New Prosperity mine has twice failed to pass the federal environmental assessment process, the B.C. government approved it in 2010, finding that economic benefits outweigh environmental considerations.

The review panel is expected to decide by late Wednesday whether to hold private hearings with the Xeni Gwet'in.

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