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Author Topic: Chilcotin mine backers promise to replace lake  (Read 2312 times)

troutbreath

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Chilcotin mine backers promise to replace lake
« on: December 08, 2008, 03:38:03 PM »

Chilcotin mine backers promise to replace lake
 
Prosperity project cites need for tailings pond
 
By Scott SimpsonDecember 6, 2008
 
Proponents of an $800-million mine in the Chilcotin are hoping that a combination of scientific research and economic value will be sufficient to swing an environmental assessment in their favour.

The Prosperity gold-copper project, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, proposes to convert a rainbow trout lake, Fish Lake, into a tailings pond for the mine.

Taseko Mines Ltd. proposes to create a replacement lake immediately upstream of the existing lake to maintain a fishing opportunity in the area.

The company's primary contention is that its project is vital enough to the provincial economy to warrant the sacrifice of the lake for the sake of the mine.

The Mining Association of B.C. concurred in a letter this week to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which has just completed a public comment period on terms of reference for evaluating the mine proposal.

"As you well know, the decline of the forest industry in central Interior British Columbia, as a result of world commodity prices and the impact of the mountain pine beetle, has hit this region hard," MABC president and CEO Pierre Gratton wrote in a Dec. 2 submission to the commission.

"The Prosperity gold-copper mine project is the most clear and present opportunity for economic diversification in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region."

The public comment period for the initial phase of examination of the project closed Wednesday, but more detailed stages will follow next year including a 60-day public comment period that is likely to begin in mid-February on Taseko's overall application and detailed mine design work.

Taseko said the project could be complete in late 2009.

"This $800 million investment will generate 500 direct jobs, some 1,200 indirect jobs, over a 20-year period," Taseko vice-president Brian Battison said.

"The project will generate $200 million a year in spending. It will add 0.3 [per cent] to the B.C. GDP. It will add $340 million every year in provincial GDP. To put that into some context, that's three times the size of the commercial fishing industry in 2006.

Just over a year ago another proposed B.C. mine, Kemess North, was rejected on the basis of long-term environmental impact, first nations concerns, and, like Prosperity, the need to use a fish-bearing body of water as a tailings pond.

Battison said Taseko has spent $90 million on engineering, feasibility, and preparing for the environmental assessment and is confident that development of an alternative lake is achievable.

MiningWatch Canada program coordinator Ramsey Hart said the risks remain too large and noted that Tsilquot'in First Nations in the area flatly oppose the destruction of the lake, which they call Teztan Biny.

"We are very concerned about the use of natural water bodies like Fish Lake for mine-waste dumping. It's not just occurring in B.C. It's occurring across the country.

"This is a particularly startling example given the location, given the concern of the Xenii Gwet'in First Nation, given the fact that it is a productive, fish-bearing lake.

"We don't see that as a sustainable, viable option for mine waste management. It's much cheaper for the industry, but only in the short term. In the long term it's society that bears the cost of losing that lake."

ssimpson@vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?