Injunction hearings on an exploratory drilling program for a proposed mine project southwest of Williams Lake concluded Wednesday in BC Supreme Court.
The judge reserved her decision that is anticipated to be delivered in the first week of September after hearing injunction applications from the Tsilhqot’in Nation and Taseko Mines Ltd (TML).
Tribal chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, Chief Joe Alphonse said they believe the hearings went fairly well.
“All indications are the desired outcome is probably a lot closer than what we were told it was going to be going in,” he said.
“We were told that we had virtually zero chance of getting a decent outcome, desired outcome, so I think it’s looking pretty good for us.”
Alphonse added that the judge seemed to be aware of the importance of having Aboriginal right and title.
“We’re the only nation in Canada that has such a title and it’s just to the courts to determine what does that really mean, and if they don’t fall in favor with us then I guess the message to all First Nations across Canada is that is it really worth pursuing court systems trying to resolve issues,” he said.
“The alternative I don’t think is good, so we’re pretty happy right now. It gives us the summer at least to not have to worry and continue to battle in the court systems.”
The Tsilhqot’in Nation is seeking an injunction to stop TML’s drilling program until there can be a full trial to establish that it unjustifiable infringes proven Aboriginal rights.
TML that was granted a permit authorizing the extensive drilling program at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) on the BC Liberals last day in office meanwhile is seeking an injunction to prohibit the Tsilhqot’in from interfering.
Heavy equipment attempting to mobilize through Highway 20 to Teztan Biny to begin the exploratory drilling was stopped last month by the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
Vice President of Corporate Affairs Brian Battison confirmed that the decision has been reserved.
“We have no other comments to make at this time,” Battison added.
TML has agreed to stand down on the drilling program (aside from non-disruptive work such as surveying).
The New Prosperity mine has been twice rejected by the federal government through Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency hearings.