Environmental Groups Urge Rejection of Revised Fish Lake Mine Proposal
VICTORIA and VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Taseko’s revised proposal for a Fish Lake gold and copper mine would be even more of “an environmental disaster” than the company’s original proposal and must be turned down for federal public review, 11 environmental groups said today.
The Canadian Environment Assessment Agency (CEAA) is scheduled to decide by November 7 whether to accept for review Taseko’s revised “New Prosperity Mine” project in B.C.’s interior--a project the company itself has said would wreak more damage than its first proposal. Taseko’s first $1 billion proposal was rejected by the federal government last November, following initial approval by the B.C. government.
“It would be a complete waste of taxpayers’ money to spend another year studying this highly destructive project,” said Sierra Club BC Executive Director George Heyman. “The Tsilhqot’in National Government has said very clearly that they do not want this mine on their sacred land. The federal government’s own environmental review panel pointed out that a Fish Lake mine would cause irreparable damage to both First Nations rights and the environment, including to fish stocks and grizzly populations.”
Taseko’s revised project avoids draining picturesque Fish Lake, home to 80,000 rainbow trout and once featured on a B.C. tourism brochure. Instead, Fish Lake would be surrounded by the proposed open-pit mine and unusable for the life of the mine (up to 33 years). Little Fish Lake, which is crucial to the ecosystem that supports the unique trout population, would still be destroyed and used as a toxic tailings pond.
“It’s unbelievable that we would even consider destroying a fresh water lake that is of great significance to an indigenous community and is surrounded by cultural sites, including First Nations burial grounds,” said Anne-Marie Sam, B.C. Regional Advisor for the Canadian Boreal Initiative.
Changes to the federal Fisheries Act allow metal mining corporations to use Canadian lakes to dispose of the millions of tonnes of toxic waste rock and tailings they generate. Little Fish Lake would be Canada’s fifth pristine natural water body authorized for destruction under this loophole, which was originally introduced solely to allow mines already approved and in existence to complete their economic life cycle.
Environmental groups are asking Ottawa to close the legislative loophole that allows destruction of Canada’s freshwater bodies for toxic mine tailings, and to ensure the intent of our Fisheries Act is no longer undermined.
Groups supporting the Tsilhqot’in National Government and urging the CEAA to reject Taseko’s most recent request for review of its Fish Lake mine proposal include the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Sierra Club BC, West Coast Environmental Law, ForestEthics, Wilderness Committee, Greenpeace, BC Spaces for Nature, Georgia Strait Alliance, Sierra Club Canada, Wildsight and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance.
- 30 -
Contact: George Heyman, Sierra Club BC: (604) 312-6595.
Anne-Marie Sam, Canadian Boreal Initiative: (613) 230-4739