WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - The First Nations fighting a proposed gold and copper mine in the British Columbia Interior say it's a disgrace that the provincial mines minister is pressuring Ottawa to approve the mine, against the advice of an environmental review panel.
And the Tsilhqot'in (tsill-COAT-teen) National Government says if the federal government does so, it could be on the hook for millions in compensation because it will take the project to court.
Mining Minister Bill Bennett joined several business leaders earlier this week in urging the federal government to approve the Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO) proposed New Prosperity mine — the tenth largest undeveloped gold-copper deposit in the world.
The mine was rejected once before because the project proposed to use a lake significant to area First Nations as a tailings pond, but the company revised the plan and reapplied.
The second environmental review also found the mine would have adverse environmental effects but Taseko has launched a judicial review, saying the panel used the wrong information to come to its conclusions.
Tsilhqot'in Tribal Chairman Joe Alphonse says the province is on a path toward "all-out conflict" with First Nations over aboriginal rights.