Taseko Mines Limited (TML) says it is considering its options after a peaceful protest camp west of Williams Lake sent contractors home.
Heavy equipment was attempting to mobilize through Highway 20 to Teztan Biny, also known as Fish Lake to begin exploratory drilling but was stopped Tuesday by the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
“We’re considering the various options that are in front of us. One of them would be to seek a court order because it is against law to block people from traveling down public roads in the province, so a roadblock of this kind is an illegal act and you seek an injunction when you run into circumstances,” said Taseko Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Brian Battison.
“That’s one option and we haven’t made a decision on that yet. The other decision is to do nothing, I suppose, which doesn’t seem like much of an option especially when you think about the nature of the work which is just commonplace and innocent really in the routine nature of it and the important value of the information that we seek which will help to alleviate everybody’s concern around water quality.”
Battison added the work Taseko seeks to do is very similar to work that has already taken place over the last few decades, and that the purpose of the work is to collect information and samples which will ensure the water quality of the site of the New Prosperity mine proposal that they are trying to develop.
“It’s to ensure the environmental integrity of the proposal itself, so it’s important information to get and that information is required under the Mines Act Permitting process,” he said.
“So it’s important information for the provincial government and it’s important information for the federal government because of their doubts about the water quality levels that would be achieved under the proposal when we first went to the environmental assessment process with the federal government. This information will help to alleviate those concerns and to address that lack of information.”
The proposed gold-copper mine has been rejected twice by the Federal government.
Taseko was granted a permit by B.C. authorizing the extensive drilling program in July 2017.
The Tsilhqot’in Nation says Taseko does not have the nation’s consent to undertake this work.
“This project is dead. It cannot be built. Yet the company wants to come in and tear up a place that is as sacred to us as a church,” said Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tŝilhqot’in National Government in a news release Monday.
“BC needs to understand that TML does not have and will not secure the consent of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, and must intervene to prevent the conflict from getting worse,” said Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Russell Myers Ross, Vice-Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government.