Panel hears about alternative means – Williams Lake Tribune

RAVEN note:  The federal environmental review panel heard that Fish Lake does NOT need to be destroyed!

Environment Canada views all three mining development plans considered by Taseko Mines Ltd. for the Prosperity project “potentially viable,” the federal panel reviewing the project heard Monday as part of its topic-specific hearing sessions in Williams Lake.

“Mine Development Plan 3 would have the greatest overall immediate environmental impact and potentially the lowest long-term environmental risk,” said Charles Dumaresq of the Mining and Processing Division of Enviornment Canada. “Mine Development Plan 3 would be the least costly.”

Mine Development Plan 3 is the proposal approved by the provincial government and submitted to the federal panel.

The other two plans considered by Taseko — narrowed down from a total of 15 proposal sites for environmental and economic reasons — do not use Fish Lake.

Option 1 would consist of disposal of tailings as a slurry with co-disposal of the potentially acid generating waste rock in the tailings management facility within the upper Tete Angela Creek valley, using two dams.

The open pit would be located just north of Fish Lake with the milling facility located mid-way between the open pit and Tete Angela creek.

Option 2 would see the tailings management facility at upper Fish Creek, with containment provided by the natural contours within upper Fish Creek, using three dams. The milling facility would be located southeast of the open pit just east of Fish Lake.

Scott Jones, Taseko’s vice-president of engineering, said one option would cost $350 million more than the proposed option, and the other $350 million more, making them “fatally flawed” in terms of economics. All three options, he said, had the same socio-economic impact.

Panel member Bill Klassen asked Jones how Taseko determines cost is excessive.

“$350 and $450 million more, that pushes the project into the realm of we wouldn’t pull the trigger on that project, we will not execute that project,” Jones said. “And we don’t believe anybody else would, either.”

Asked about 17 days of hearings in First Nations communities, where the panel heard widespread opposition to the use of Fish Lake, and whether that changed Taseko’s view of option 1, Jones said it depends on how much weight one lends to socio-economic and other impacts.

In any case, he said, options 1 and 2 were still flawed economically.

Tony Pearse, representing the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG), said First Nations should have been involved in alternative assessments for the project.

“First Nations, had they been part of that process, would have elevated the loss of Fish Lake to …(a) fatal flaw,” he said.

Taseko responded that different weighting — which had been studied a great deal in the 1990s — would have made no difference in the outcome of the assessment.

“TNG was invited to participate in 1998 as a member of the working group and as a member of the project committee,” Taseko’s manager of environmental assessment Rod Bell-Irving said. “If they chose not to participate, that’s a matter of record. ”

“The panel should take into account the environmental impacts of each alternative, including the characteristics of the habitat that would be impacted, the immediate environmental impacts of each alternative compared with the long-term environmental risks, and the environmental impacts and risks of each alternative compared with the economic and social costs and benefits of each of the Mine Development Plans,” Dumaresq told the panel.

WL Tribune Reader comment: 
harrydagger – “In an effort to provide balanced reporting for readers would you please post comments from Dr. Kevin Morin and Dr. Ann Maest on the mine plan presented. Additionally it should be noted that FN were involved until Taseko consulted with MoE Minister Penner to change this process after the Kemess II application became too onerous to undertake. Both the mine and the Province pushed the FN aside. Things haven’t changed much since the Chilcotin War. Then it was surveyors, now it is miners. Do you guys have any idea how bad this looks?”

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