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Tsilhqot’in Angry and Alarmed by Decision to Review dead Prosperity Mine project
Pursuing project that cannot be accepted is pointless, costly and divisive
Williams Lake, BC. November 7, 2011: The Tsilhqot’in Nation reacted today with anger, frustration, bewilderment and disappointment to the announcement that the already rejected Prosperity Mine proposal will proceed to another review.
“This is a wrong decision that makes no sense to us and raises serious concerns, but at least the Minister of Environment recognizes these must be addressed through a public review panel that ensures full transparency and accountability,” Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said.
The Tsilhqot’in Nation is also extremely alarmed that the proponent company, Taseko Mines Ltd (TML), will now try to use prematurely granted BC exploration permits to further damage the Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) area by constructing 24 Km’s of roads and drill new holes.
“The cumulative impacts from the proposed road building and drilling in this area of proven cultural and spiritual importance is a serious threat to our Aboriginal rights, which have been affirmed by B.C.’s courts in the Vickers decision,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation. “Any further destruction would be pointless as the federal government cannot possibly approve this proposal.”
The Tsilhqot’in people are angry and frustrated that they will be dragged through another costly, foolish and divisive process when the facts show this resubmission is just a repackaged version of a previous option that has already been ruled out as worse than the original plan by government and TML experts.*
Chief Alphonse said: “To avoid duplication and reduce costs, CEAA must re-appoint the same review panel members. They spent months hearing and reviewing the evidence for a report that then-environment minister Jim Prentice called ‘scathing’ and ‘probably the most condemning I have ever read.’”
Chief Baptiste added: “The government is still required under the Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to reject the proposal to protect our rights. And there is nothing new here that would allow the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to reverse the total opposition it has given to this mining effort since 1995.
“One has to wonder if Taseko Mines Ltd – which has lobbyists registered with three Ottawa firms and a very close association with a company that recently hired a former Regional Director for CEAA – are trying to rewrite the rules. So the government must allow a public, transparent review by the same panel and one that protects our Aboriginal rights and title.”
Chief Alphonse said: “The mine proponents told us last year, when they expected the project to be approved, that we should shut up and accept it. Well, it was rejected and now they should take their own advice and accept this project is a lost cause. Canada’s First Nations are united against this resubmission.
“At stake are the credibility of the EA process and the honour of the Crown. We would all rather be working with government and industry to find a better way forward for mining in Canada, but this poster child for all that is wrong with the system continues to stand in the way.”