Efforts to move the New Prosperity mine project near Williams Lake, British Columbia, forward have gained traction this week, when the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) cleared the way for Taseko Mines to undertake geotechnical work at the project.
The SCC on Thursday dismissed the Tsilhqot'in First Nation’s application to appeal an earlier judgment by the British Columbia Supreme Court and by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Tsilhqot'in had argued that the province of British Columbia had breached its duty to consult and accommodate in approving an exploratory drilling programme.
"Getting permission to mine in British Columbia may be difficult, but it's not impossible. It just takes patience," said Taseko president and CEO Russell Hallbauer.
He added that the SCC decision was clear. “Provincial permits authorising mineral exploration and development can, if done with care and consideration, withstand any possible legal challenges.
Despite obtaining a provincial environmental assessment certificate in January 2010, the project had stalled after the federal government determined that it would have significant adverse environmental effects in the area.
Hallbauer declared that New Prosperity’s “legal challenges” were over. “The permit is sound, the work can and will proceed. What this ruling does mean is that we are taking the steps necessary to get closer to the day when such a decision can be made to build New Prosperity.”
Taseko previously said that the work it proposes is investigative in nature and will gather hydrological data and other information required for the British Columbia Mines Act permitting process. The information will also address the concerns expressed by the Tsilhqot’in First Nation during the federal environmental assessment, including outstanding questions relating to environmental protection and the New Prosperity water management plan.
The New Prosperity deposit is the largest undeveloped copper/gold deposit in Canada and Taseko believes among the top 15 in the world. The deposit is a gold/copper porphyry with a one-billion-tonne measured and indicated resource containing 5.3-billion pounds of copper and 13.3-million ounces of gold. At long-term gold and copper prices the project has robust economics.
The mining company argues that the New Prosperity mine could be a powerhouse for economic change in British Columbia’s central interior.
“It can be a positive game changer for First Nations as well. With lumber manufacturers closing mills and curtailing operations, potential mines like New Prosperity offer renewed hope and opportunity, especially for the people of the central interior,” said Hallbauer.