Tsilhqot’in National Government denounces “rubber stamp” of approval from BCEAO for Taseko Mines project

January 18, 2010, Williams Lake — The Tsilhqot’in National Government denouced the BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) decision to grant an evnironmental assessment certificate (EA) to Taseko Mines Ltd. for a proposed massive mine at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), an area where the Tsilhqot’in Nation holds proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights.

“We are disappointed but not surprised,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Xeni Gwet’in First Nation. “It has been clear from the outset that this is a rubber stamp exercise.”  The Chief explained that the BCEAO has rushed to a decision based on the same record that an independent federal panel has deemed fundamentally deficient on key issues.

One issue on which the proposed mine has been found deficient is current use of the area by First Nations for traditional purposes. The federal Panel has held that Taseko’s treatment of this issue is deficient and has extended First Nations the opportunity to provide this critical information directly at the public hearings to be held by the Panel. 

“The BCEAO originally said it would attend these hearings and use the information generated there,” Chief Baptiste pointed out. “Then, over our objections, it rushes to this decision before the hearings can be held. This show how much BCEAO values First Nations concerns.”

“I find it ironic that the province claims it has done ‘due diligence’ in terms of consulting with First Nations,” stated Chief Ivor Myers, Yunesit’in (Stone) First Nation. “The Province rejected all of our efforts to meet with them to set up a consultation process that would work for our people and our communities. Despite government and company efforts to put a positive spin on this, we do not agree with the proposal. Investors should be aware that this project is not a done deal.” 

Please click here for the full release, including comments by Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli Nation.

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