Updated: Taseko Mines Limited (TML) has been ordered to halt moving forward with its exploratory drilling program in Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and Nabas (the surrounding area) until a new trial by the Tsilhqot’in Nation is heard.
The BC Supreme Court granted an injunction on Friday to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
“I’m pretty excited,” Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse told MyCaribooNow.
“We were told the odds were against us in dealing with this, but we have to keep reminding the courts that we’re the only Nation in Canada that has proven Aboriginal rights and title, therefore, consultation guidelines that apply for First Nations throughout Canada is one thing, but to deal with a Nation with Aboriginal Rights is another and that’s what Taseko and the province of British Columbia don’t seem to get.”
TML was seeking an injunction against the Tsilhqot’in Nation after heavy equipment that was attempting to mobilize through Highway 20 to Teztan Biny to begin the exploration drilling was stopped by the Tsilhqot’in Nation on Tuesday, July 2 and agreed to stand down on the drilling program (aside from non-disruptive work such as surveying) to await the Court’s decision.
Vice President of Corporate Affairs Brian Battison initially told MyCaribooNow he did not have any comment.
“The decision will lead to a delay in our ability to undertake physical work at the New Prosperity site,” Battison later said.
“In a broader context, it’s a decision that makes it difficult to be optimistic about resource-based activity of any kind in what the Tsilhqot’in consider to be their traditional territory.”
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation will now have its day in court to prove at trial that the drilling program represents an unjustified infringement of its proven Aboriginal rights.
“From a provincial governance point of view I think this would be a dangerous case for them to lose because what it would do if we won that trial is that it would actually put the whole permitting quest into question for provincial governments right across the board,” Alphonse said.
“I think instead of fighting with us I think they should be trying to work with us. It’s a dead-end project and we got caught in the middle of a cross fight between the Liberal party and the NDP. On the Liberal’s last day of power, they issued this to more or less say thank-you to supporters that have contributed to their campaign over the years and that’s not why permits should be issued, so our Nation is ecstatic.”
“We’re happy this is the outcome that we had wanted and wished for and were told that we would never get this, so it’s a pretty big day for us.”
The proposed New Prosperity gold-copper mine has been rejected twice by the Federal government.
TML was granted a permit by B.C. authorizing the extensive drilling program in July 2017.
“I guess the question one might ask is what does Taseko do now? And in response to that; and I’ve been asked that, it’s not in our nature to give up,” Battison said.
“I think we’ve made that clear over the last few years, so we will examine now the possible options ahead and then we’ll decide on a course of action.”
(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comment from TML Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Brian Battison.)