Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tsilhqot’'in Call on Harper to Heed the Science in Prosperity Mine Decision

Will the Harper government listen to their own experts?

(From Tsilhqot'in National Government Press Release)

B.C.’s Tsilhqot’in Nation is calling on the Harper government to listen to its own scientists and ignore the political lobbying by Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML) and the mining industry that could undermine the Environmental Assessment process in the case of the latest bid to create a massive, but very low-grade ore mine at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).

TML has even boasted of its lobbying success with federal Ministers, reporting that it believes the government is on side after meeting with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, and  has run a media campaign to discredit as “misinformation” concerns about its new proposal – concerns that have been raised by experts from various federal and provincial ministries during the panel process.

“This lobbying is particularly alarming when you combine it with the company`s mischaracterization of the scientific evidence at the environmental hearings.  We are in Ottawa to make sure that everyone has their facts straight.  This is a bad project that threatens our Nation and culture.  Contrary to the company’s claims, approval of this project would be bad news and put the government and the mining industry on a collision course with the Tsilhqot’in people and First Nations from across Canada who stand by our side,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government.

“We are in Ottawa this week to try to  make sure the government understands that the environmental and Aboriginal rights and title issues have not been solved by this new mine proposal, which is as bad, and according to the company’s own prior statements, even worse than the previous one,” said Chief Roger William of Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government.

“We are also asking the media to look at the facts and let the public know just what it is that the government is being asked to approve –  an unproven and risky scientific experiment that has never been done anywhere on the planet.  The potential long-term liabilities to taxpayers and First Nations are unprecedented, and there is no point pushing this unwanted and unsupportable mine over the objections of both the scientific facts and First Nations rights and Title,” said Chief William.

Chief Alphonse said despite the company’s lobbying - and its media campaigns to promote the mine as a major economic boon and dismiss all concerns about the project as misinformation - the facts lead to a totally opposite conclusion.

The 2010 panel report on the first proposal was described as “scathing” by then Environment Minister Jim Prentice. The new proposal is based on an option that both the company and environment Canada said in 2010 would be worse for the environment than that original plan, which was rejected by the government. Despite claims by the company that it has addressed all previous concerns with this “new” option, TML’s Environmental Impact Statement was sent back three times because of  incorrect, missing, or unintelligible information.

This summer’s panel hearings finally had to proceed without the company providing all the information requested, and during the technical hearings the flaws and concerns about the project were highlighted by experts from several federal and provincial ministries, as well as independent experts.

For example, Natural Resources Canada advised the panel that contaminated seepage would drain from the Tailings Storage Facility to the groundwater at 11 times the rate predicted by Taseko Mines Ltd., downstream to Teztan Biny and other water bodies. Environment Canada (EC) described future water quality in Fish Lake as “marginal for the protection of aquatic life” even before this increased seepage is taken into account.

Another example - EC and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) both described TML’s proposal to recirculate Teztan Biny flows as “unproven”, “untested” and unprecedented” at this scale. DFO specifically predicted contamination of Teztan Biny if the mine proceeds.

These are just some of the many concerns raised by experts at the hearings, and a list of these statements, and links to where they can be found in the hearing transcripts, is provided below.

The company has also tried to imply that it has consulted with First Nations and has addressed their concerns.

“Presenting us with a final decision and plan for resubmitting its mining bid is not consultation. As for its approach to First Nations, this is the same company that tried to get our culture, even our prayers, banned from these hearings,” said Chief Alphonse.

There is no support for this mine from the Tsilhqot’in.  Every member who spoke at the community hearings spoke against the mine.

What is more, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit, the BC Assembly of First Nations, and the National Assembly of First Nations chiefs have all passed resolutions vowing to stand with the Tsilhqot’in against this project and making it clear that the government’s honour and credibility is on the line with this project, which is has become a BC and national poster child for all that is wrong with mining.

The Tsilhqot’in have already won recognition of their land claims and their Title and rights case will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada next month.

“Unlike the company and the mining industry, we had extremely limited opportunity to sit down and explain our position with government ministers face to face, so we are  asking the media to look at the facts and ensure that the government and the public are aware of exactly what is at stake,” said Chief William.

Chief Joe Alphonse – 250-305-8282                       Chief Roger William -250-267-6593

TML memo to federal government after meeting with NR Minister Joe Oliver:http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/taseko-mines-praises-ottawa-ahead-of-environmental-hearings-on-bc-mine-215423241.html?device=mobile

Backgrounder – list of concerns rose by government and other experts at 21013 review panel hearings: Read 'Government experts raised red flags on proposal to build mine: summary of concerns' here - http://www.vancouversun.com/business/bc2035/Government+experts+raised+flags+proposal+build+mine/8880799/story.html

AFN Resolution opposing New Prosperity mine (Scroll to TNG resolution #29) : http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/aga-2011-resolutions.pdf

AFN resolution – Tsilhqot’in Title and Rights case: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/assembly-of-first-nations-expresses-full-support-for-tsilhqotin-nation

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tsilhqot’in Chiefs present to Williams Lake Council

253 – 4th Avenue North Williams Lake, BC V2G 4T4 Phone (250) 392-3918 Fax (250) 398-5798

Media Advisory

Williams Lake, B.C. (December 3, 2012):  The Tsilhqot’in Chiefs will be presenting to Williams Lake’s City Council tomorrow, Tuesday December 4th, at 6 p.m., on their Nation’s opposition to the “new” Prosperity Mine Proposal.  The Tsilhqot’in Chiefs are proud to have alongside them Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Chief Bob Chamberlin, who along with Chief Marilyn Baptiste represent the Executive from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

The Tsilhqot’in will be walking to City Hall shortly before their presentation from their offices at 253 4thAvenue North, alongside non-First Nation citizens and groups including the Council of Canadians and Fish Lake Alliance. 

The presentation is being made days after the Federal Review Panel charged with assessing the impacts from Taseko Mines Ltd.’s proposed “New” Prosperity mine has issued a statement of ‘major deficiencies’ in the company’s Environmental Impact Statement. 

Media Contacts:

Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair:  250-305-8282, or 250-394-4212
Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Xeni Gwet’in: 250-267-1401

J.P. Laplante
Mining, Oil and Gas Manager
Tsilhqot’in National Government
253 4th Ave North, Wiliams Lake BC V2G 4T4

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chief Marilyn Baptiste and Chief Francis Laceese

Living Democracy from the Ground Up: Part 1

Watch this new video from the Tsilhqot'in
What is at stake if we allow our voices to be silenced in decisions that affect our communities? Watch the Living Democracy from the Ground Up series, learn more & take action at: http://www.envirolawsmatter.ca
In this video, Chief Marilyn Baptiste and Chief Francis Laceese discuss their committment to preventing the "New Prosperity Mine" be built in the upper Chilko River watershed. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Taseko Prosperity Mine Not a Done Deal

Chief Alphonse Sees Dim Future For Taseko's Prosperity Mine



Re: New Prosperity will live up to its name, Sept. 20, and responsible mining begins before opening and ends long after closure, Sept. 27

The Prosperity Mine proposal and its prospects are far from a done deal.

First, the proposal is one which the company itself, and Environment Canada, initially claimed would be worse for the environment than the original plan that was soundly rejected by the federal government in 2010.

Since then, the company has tried to revise that claim. Earlier this summer, the company submitted an environmental-impact statement (EIS) which was rejected by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and the relevant government ministries. The company received 250 criticisms dealing with major inaccuracies, omissions, failures to address issues outlined for it in February, and poor, often unreadable, drafting.

The above are all matters of verifiable public record.

Mr. Russell Hallbauer, president and CEO of Taseko Mines Ltd., says these issues have now all been addressed, but that claim has been made before and proved wrong. CEAA and other parties will review the new EIS and even if it is accepted as the basis for hearings, it will then have to stand up to public scrutiny. So will its economic claims and feasibility studies. We have analyses raising detailed specific problems with these economic reports, which at the hearings stage will not so easily be dismissed with platitudes.


Chief Joe Alphonse Tribal chair, Tsilhqot'in National Government

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Alexis Creek First Nation Opposed to New Prosperity Mine

Alexis Creek First Nation Press Release:

Tsilhqot’in Leaders and Communities fully opposed to “New” Prosperity Mine

Ervin Charleyboy does not speak for the Tsilhqot’in Nation

Alexis Creek BC (October 2, 2012):  Today the elected Chief and Council of the Alexis Creek First Nation (“Tsi Del Del”), one of the six Tsilhqot’in communities, called on Taseko Mines Ltd. to halt its desperate tactics that are being employed to promote its 3rd attempt to obtain federal approval for its proposed copper and gold mine at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). 
In recent interviews and news releases, Taseko Mines and the former Alexis Creek Chief Ervin Charleyboy have emphasized Charleyboy’s support for the “new” Prosperity Mine proposal.  The news releases show that Taseko Mines has close ties with Charleyboy; in fact, in a press release issued by Charleyboy he praises Taseko Mine’s water management plans – plans that had yet to be publicly released or even provided to the Tsilhqot’in Chiefs. 
“With all due respect to the long years of service from Ervin Charleyboy, he is neither a spokesperson nor an elected representative of the Alexis Creek First Nation or the Tsilhqot’in Nation.  The Alexis Creek First Nation is opposed to the mine, and takes exception to Ervin’s attempts to portray young band members working on a fish habitat project for Ervin as a “youth committee” and an endorsement of the company’s mine proposal,” said Alexis Creek Chief Percy Guichon. 
“The Tsilhqot’in people have spoken loud and clear: they do not want a project of this size, with such environmental risk and in an area as important as Fish Lake.  We welcome other opportunities to develop mining projects in less sensitive areas, but the Tsilhqot’in Nation is fully opposed to this project,” said Tsilhqot’in Nation Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse. 
Chief Alphonse: “Ervin is free to speak his mind.  He is entitled to his opinion.    But he should not be confused as a spokesperson for our communities.  He is not.  There is overwhelming opposition in our communities to this mine, and it is shameful that the company is stooping to quoting one individual’s support in its press releases.” 
Chief Guichon:  “The Tsilhqot’in are participating in good faith in the federal. environmental panel review.  We are confident that this new Panel will see through the company’s desperate tactics and its version of the mine already deemed worse for the environment.  What is clear to us from all of this is that Taseko Mines Ltd. lacks a social license to operate, and is desperate enough to seize on individuals acting alone to advance an illusion of community support.”

Media Contacts: 
Chief Percy Guichon:      250-267-2507 (cell)          250-481-3335 (alternate)             
Chief Joe Alphonse:        250-305-8282 (cell)          250-392-3918 (alternate)

Friday, September 14, 2012

MiningWatch Canada Flags Prosperity Mine Risks

Prosperity Mine Too Risky for Investors

MiningWatch Canada today issued a statement that Taseko Mines' proposed Prosperity Mine is at too great a risk of not being approved to be a good investment.

MiningWatch Canada put forward the following points to back up its claim:
1. Taseko's New Prosperity Project continues to face major challenges in obtaining necessary environmental approvals. 
2. The New Prosperity does not have and is unlikely to get a social licence to operate from the affected First Nations communities and Aboriginal governments. 
3. The New Prosperity capital and operating cost estimates do not include key factors that will affect the economic viability of the project and share price volatility is likely to continue. 
4. Political support from provincial and federal governments for the New Prosperity Project is uncertain.
5. The fierce opposition to this project from Aboriginal peoples and environmental organizations may result in lengthy litigation and could have implications for the future of other extraction projects in BC.
The site mentions that Taseko Mines has over 55% of its net assets listed in the Prosperity Mine project, which still faces an environmental review process that it has failed once already.

The Canadian Pension Plan holds about $4 million worth of Taseko Mines shares and MiningWatch Canada is in the process of notifying them of their analysis.

Teztan Biny Supporter Fundraising

Tsilhqot'in National Government Seeks Donations

This just in from J.P. Laplante at TNG:
Dear Teztan Biny Supporters,

I’m writing to ask you to consider donating in support of the Tsilhqot’in effort to protect Teztan Biny, and to share this email and web-link with others who may be like-minded.

Last month, we were added to the “Small Change Fund”, which is an organization and website that highlights specific grassroots fundraising efforts.  The full description of the project we are fundraising for can be found here:  http://smallchangefund.org/projects/saving-fish-lake-from-open-pit-mining-raise-our-voices/
 Through the Small Change Fund, we are fundraising for a media-training workshop to initiate a Tsilhqot’in youth film contest.  We had intended to deliver this workshop at the 2012 Teztan Gathering, but due to constraints we were unable to do so.  Regardless, we continue to fundraise to deliver the workshop and contest in the fall and winter.  Our objective is that the videos produced by Tsilhqot’in youth can act as a means to get their voices heard on the issue of Teztan Biny/Fish Lake, as well as other important topics that face Tsilhqot’in youth today.  As demonstrated at this year’s Gathering, the youth have an important and powerful role to play in protecting their own future, and you can assist by making the workshop and contest a reality. Chief Marilyn Baptiste has already donated $1000 as prize money for the contest. We now need to fundraise to deliver the workshop and the contest.  We are also looking for workshop facilitators (film-makers, technicians) and volunteers to help in the organizing.  My contact information is below if you have any questions. Please consider sharing this with others who may be interested in helping!

J.P. LaplanteMining, Oil and Gas Manager
Tsilhqot’in National Government
253 4th Ave North, Wiliams Lake BC V2G 4T4
Tel: 250-392-3918Fax: 250-398-5798Email: jlaplante@tsilhqotin.ca