B.C. natives fear violence over mine – CBC News

First Nations chiefs in B.C.’s southern Interior say thousands of their bands’ members will use any means they can to stop a major mine in the Chilcotin region.

An open-pit copper gold mine to be dug by the B.C company Taseko Mines Ltd. has been proposed for the Nemiah Valley, about 160 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

If the $1-billion project — which Taseko has named the Prosperity Mine — gets the green light from the federal government, one First Nations spokesman predicts lawsuits, protests, roadblocks and worse.

“We’re peaceful people,” said Ahanam Chief Joe Alphonse. “But if it comes to that, we’re not intimidated at making a stand. There’s no holding our membership back and I’m really fearful of that.”

Stone Chief Ivor Myers told CBC News that extracted resources are “stolen property,” and said he also feared potential violence.

“I don’t want to see something like that where there’s confrontation with the military. I don’t want to see any bloodshed.”

Myers says the mine would desecrate sacred land and pour toxic tailings into Fish Lake. “This is a sacred site for our members,” he said. “Our water is our No. 1 resource. It’s worth more than gold.”

B.C. has approved project

The Federal Environmental Assessment Panel began its final week of environmental hearings in Williams Lake on Monday.

A Taseko spokesman acknowledged at Monday’s hearings that pouring tailings into Fish Lake will kill tens of thousands of trout, chinook and steelhead, but argued it’s the only way the mine can be built.

Vice president Scott Jones said many environmental options were considered but had to be rejected.

“There was still only one economically viable solution,” Jones said.

The panel will have until June 30 to send its recommendations to the federal government for approval.

The mine already has environmental approval from the B.C. government.

Many businesses and politicians in the Williams lake area support the project, saying laid-off mill workers are eager for the hundreds of jobs in mining and construction the mine would create.

With files from the CBC’s Betsy Trumpener

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/04/26/bc-taseko-mine-environmental-hearing.html#socialcomments#ixzz0mKTidSBB

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