Workers at the Gibraltar East Pit are heading back to work.
Brian Battison, Vice President of Corporate Affairs of Taseko Mines LTD, confirmed the company has received the permit needed to resume operations at the mines. Battison says acquiring the permit allows Taseko Mines to begin the process of calling people back to work.
“That began over the weekend and continues because there’s shiftwork involved,” Battison explains, “mining operations in the Gibraltar East Pit have started and will continue to ramp up mining activities.”
Battison says Taseko made the application for the permit 12 months ago.
“This was, in our mind, a simple notice of departure exercise, which means ‘we want to move a shovel from here to there. Where’s there? There is an old pit, that first began in 1971, and we want to go back in with a piece of equipment and do some mining there’,” Battison says, “normally that would just be a notice of departure which is a simple paper exercise, you send the letter to Victoria, and you do the work.”
Battison says they needed a permit amendment instead, which requires a great deal of review and consultation. He said it seemed endless in this case.
“It went so far in fact we couldn’t continue to mine, we couldn’t keep these particular people employed,” Battison explains, “They suffered as a result, they lost wages, they lost employment.”
Mayor Walt Cobb and City Council got involved with phone calls to Victoria, but Battison says none of that should have been required. “It should have been a routine course of business,” Battison says.
“We kept this operation operating through one of the worst fire seasons we’ve had in a long time a couple of years ago,” Battison added, “we kept the operation running, without layoff, through COVID, and did so in a safe way, but we weren’t able to keep these people working because it seems to just be a bridge too far when it comes to issuing a straight forward permit.”
“It has given us some peace of mind for the moment at least,” Battison says, “We’re pleased we’re able to to get these folks back working, they have obligations, they have mortgages, financial obligations, nobody likes to see anyone laid off so it’s good news that they’re back to work.”