Williams Lake, BC. Tuesday Sept. 28: Taseko Mines Ltd continues to act like federal approval of its demonstrably unacceptable Prosperity mine project is a done deal. It is holding a jobs seminar for the proposed mine in Williams Lake today, and yesterday announced the appointment of a new VP of operations who it says will oversee the operation of a mine that should have no chance of being approved.
Both actions presume the mine is going ahead, even though the CEAA review panel, and indeed the federal government’s own Department of Fisheries and Ocean, have left the federal Cabinet with no constitutional, legal or moral choice but to reject the mine.
The company’s announcement yesterday of its appointment of David Rouleau as Vice President of Operations states that he “will be responsible for overseeing all operational aspects of the Gibraltar Mine as well as the development and ultimate operation of the Prosperity Mine.”
This appointment also raises further questions regarding the relationship between the company and the BC Liberals, and the possible influence this might have had on the BC government, which approved the proposed mine despite the fact that it clearly violates its own previous opposition to development in the area on environmental and First Nations rights grounds.
Mr. Rouleau spent 17 years with Teck Cominco in various mine operations and engineering roles. He was also “a key member of Canadian Natural Resources senior management team developing the $10 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project in Fort McMurray, Alberta.”
As the Tsilhqot’in National Government revealed last week, Elections BC records show that one of Taseko Mine Ltd’s directors, Richard Mundie, has powerful ties to the party, having signed off on $440,000 in donations to the BC Liberals from Teck Cominco between 2005 and 2009 when he was an officer with that company.
Taseko Mines Ltd also suddenly began funding the BC Liberal Party as the province moved towards an environmental review of its Prosperity mine proposal, pumped $30,150 into BC Liberals coffers over a 12 month period starting in late 2008 as the province geared up for an election and moved towards proceeding with an environmental assessment of the proposed mine.
“We now have more reason to wonder if it is funding ties to the BC Liberals that explains why the BC government would become such a vocal champion of a proposed mine that would kill our lakes, rivers, trees, fish and wildlife, and our Tsilhqot’in rights, culture and way of life,” said Xeni Gwet’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Tsilhqot’in National Government.
“What still has us puzzled is what hold the company thinks it has over the federal government that would allow it to act as if approval from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet is a foregone conclusion?”
As Freedom of Information documents released by the TNG last week show, the Province and Taseko Mines and were told 15 years ago to look for alternatives because killing Teztan Biny could never be approved federally. The CEAA review panel report and continuing objections by DFO make it clear the project cannot receive federal approval now.
“Yet Taseko Mines continues to talk and act as if it knows something the rest of us do not,” said TNG Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse. “Should the federal government abandon its duties and actually give Taseko the green light for this mine, we will certainly be demanding an inquiry into what influences were used to convince the federal cabinet to make such an unsupportable ruling.”
Political contributions data from Elections BC’s website, along with links to the site’s relevant pages, can be found at www.fnwarm.com. Copies of letters from the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejecting the proposed mine as far back as 1995 can also be found here.
For more information: Chief Marilyn Baptiste 250-394-7023
TNG Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse 250-394-4212