Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Strongly Urges Federal Rejection of Taseko’s Prosperity Mine Proposal

Press Release
July 5, 2010

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, Canada – July 5, 2010) The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs strongly recommends the federal Cabinet to reject the Prosperity mine project now that the federal review panel's report has been completed.

"The panel extensively reviewed the proposed project and concluded that the project would result in ‘significant adverse environmental effects’ on fish habitat, grizzly bears, navigation, First Nations traditional land use, First Nations cultural heritage and certain potential or established Aboriginal Rights or Title,” says UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. “We remain confident the federal Cabinet will see the significant and irreversible impacts of this project and reject its development, as it did when it rejected Northgate Minerals’ Kemess North mine expansion project in March 2008."

Taseko Mines Limited proposed to develop an open-pit gold-copper mine in the heart of the Tsilhqot'in Nation’s territory approximately 125 km southwest of Williams Lake, B.C. The proposed project would require the draining and complete destruction of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), which included tailings and waste rock areas, an onsite mill, an approximately 125-km long power transmission line corridor and an access road.

“Taseko Mines’ proposal does not enjoy the environmental, economic and investment certainty it needs to proceed. The federal Cabinet will have to consider its constitutional, fiduciary responsibilities and legal liabilities to the Tsilhqot’in Nation,” added Grand Chief Phillip. “It is unfathomable that the federal Cabinet would ignore their responsibilities and the dire warnings of the Federal Review Panel but if it did, the decision to approve would greatly increase the alarm, tension and mistrust in First Nation communities. The decision to approve would demonstrate that the federal environmental assessment process is fundamentally flawed and would confirm that once third party interests are granted unfettered access to our respective territories, governments will protect the interests of industry at the appalling cost of wilfully disgracing the honour of the Crown through the deliberate violation of our Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. It will force First Nations to consider litigation and/or any means to protect their territory.”

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs fully supports the recent independent review of mining laws in B.C. and Canada by the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic titled Bearing the Burden: The Effects of Mining on First Nations in British Columbia. The Harvard study concluded mining laws are in contravention of international and constitutional laws, stacked against First Nations, favour industry and lack any consideration of shared decision-making, revenue-sharing or fair compensation.

“Communities like the Xeni Gwet'in, Yunesit'in, Tl'esqox, Tsi Del Del, Tl'etinqox, Stswecem'c/Xgat'tem and Esketemc are counting on the federal Cabinet to do what is right and reject the Prosperity proposal,” said Grand Chief Phillip. “As long as Canada and British Columbia continue to deny the international and constitutional legal reality of our Indigenous Rights, there will be no economic certainty for proposed projects like Taseko Mines’ Prosperity project and Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines' proposal. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs will continue to stand in unity and solidarity with any and all First Nations defending their Indigenous Title, Rights and Treaty Rights."

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
(604) 684-0231

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The UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.