A local activist is urging Taseko Mines not to proceed with its proposed Prosperity gold and copper mine that would turn Fish Lake, near Williams Lake, into an impoundment reservoir for toxic waste-rock.
“Taseko Corp. wants to build a gold mine by destruction,” Ivona Vujica of Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance told the Straight during a noon vigil today (September 2) close to Taseko’s offices in downtown Vancouver. “It is predicated on the destruction of Fish Lake, which is on Chilcotin [Tsilhqot’in] First Nation territory. It is their land and it is their homeland. If the Fish Lake is destroyed, the Chilcotin First Nation are going to lose their homeland, and where are they going to go?”
Shortly after the vigil ended, 12 environmental groups sent out a joint press release calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to save Fish Lake, which they said is home to 80,000 rainbow trout and sacred to the Tsilhqot’in.
Ivona Vujica on the proposed Prosperity mine.
The groups are urging the federal government to heed the findings of its own environmental assessment review panel, which on July 2 concluded that the mine would have a “significant adverse effect” on fish habitat and First Nations in the area. The panel also concluded that there could be a “significant adverse cumulative effect” on grizzly bears in the South Chilcotin region and fish habitat generally.
In June, the B.C. government issued a 25-year mining lease to Taseko for the Prosperity project.
Vujica and the groups listed in the release, including Sierra Club B.C. and Canadian Boreal Initiative, are expecting the Harper government to reveal its decision on the mine’s future as soon as September 10.
Vujica said First Nations in the area are opposed to the project. The proposed open-pit mine is on the traditional lands of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations, a member of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, which won a court case recognizing its rights to the area.
Local activist Masrour Zoghi had one message for Taseko: “Stop being douche bags.”
“I don’t want lakes to be turned into mine tailing dumps left, right and centre,” he said at the vigil. “This is just a bad example that they are setting, and hopefully it just won’t go through, because if it does, there is going to be a whole barrage of lakes that are going to be turned into dump sites, which is kind of sad.”
The Straight stopped by Taseko’s offices on West Pender Street and dropped off a business card, but company representatives didn’t grant an interview today.