The Tsilhqot'in Nation has rejected claims by Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML) that TML's New Prosperity Project will "save" Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). The Tsilhqot'in Nation has no doubt that this "new" mining plan merely puts the lake on temporary life support and would result in the same devastating cultural and environmental impacts that prompted the Federal Government to reject the original Prosperity Mine proposal in 2010.
"Surrounding a sacred lake with a massive open pit, one of Canada's largest tailings dams, and a giant waste rock pile, and then putting it at risk of contamination from toxic tailings discharge is not our definition of saving anything," says Tsilhqot'in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse. "We saw in the last environmental assessment how far the company's predictions were from reality. The company said there would be no significant impacts. But an independent federal panel described a whole range of massive cultural and environmental impacts. This company has no credibility with us."
Xeni Gwet'in Chief Marilyn Baptiste said: "This version of the mine has already been deemed a greater environmental risk by the independent panel in 2010, and by the company's own statements in the last review".
Chief Baptise also noted that the extra $300 million the company is allocating to the project is $37 million less than it previously stated would be needed for this alternative mine plan. "New" Prosperity also does not appear to involve new mitigation measures beyond those considered in the 2010 review, when the federal panel rejected this alternative design for the mine because of "greater environmental risk" and the likely contamination of Teztan Biny in any event.
The Tsilhqot'in Nation remains concerned that the proposal threatens the Fraser River's last strong and consistent salmon run and puts Lower Taseko Lake at risk of direct discharge of tailings into its tributaries.
The "new" proposal would still destroy 81% of Teztan Biny's fish spawning grounds, and according to the company's own statements would put the lake at risk of contamination over time. Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake), where Tsilhqot'in homes and graves are located, would still be completely destroyed under hundreds of millions of tonnes of acid waste.
Chief Alphonse said: "To approve this mine would make a mockery of the environmental assessment process. This proposal cannot and will not be approved. Once again, we find ourselves defending our statements - we are against this proposed mine. It will be devastating to the environment and our culture."
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