VANCOUVER – Last week Taseko Mines filed a civil suit in the BC Supreme Court seeking damages from the federal government over its denial of permits for the New Prosperity gold-copper project 125 km southwest of Williams Lake.
The lawsuit claims that the government of Canada and its agents failed to meet the legal duties that were owed to Taseko and that in doing so they caused and continue to cause damages, expenses and loss to Taseko. John Hunter QC of Hunter Litigation Chambers is representing the mining company.
The New Prosperity project is based on 831 million tonnes of proven and probable reserves averaging 0.23% Cu and 0.41 g/t Au. The reserves contain 3.6 billion lb of recoverable copper and 7.7 million oz of recoverable gold. Development costs could easily top $1 billion, but the economic benefits over the life of the project would be many more billions.
The project has been hotly opposed by the Tsilhqot’in First Nation. They fear the destruction of Tiztan Biny, a sacred body of water also known as Fish Lake. Based on these fears, the federal government denied permission to develop the deposit in November 2010.
Taseko has repeatedly amended its plans for New Prosperity, including a $300-million proposal to move and upgrade the tailings management area. Applications for permits were resubmitted in 2013. Environment Canada again denied authorization to proceed in February 2014, despite the support of the BC Liberal government and its Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennet in late 2013.
At that time Taseko charged the environmental review committee based its rejection on the wrong tailings plan. The company alleged that the panel relied on modeling undertaken by Natural Resources Canada rather than on the design submitted with Taseko’s application. The company challenged the panel’s findings.
“Given the conduct of the government of Canada and its agents we have no other choice but to defend the interests of our shareholders and to protect their assets,” said Taseko president & CEO Russell Hallbauer. (www.TasekoMines.com)
It seems that only lawyers will be making a living from New Prosperity for the foreseeable future.