Some of B.C.'s biggest business leaders are urging the federal government to approve a controversial gold and copper mine, despite ongoing environmental concerns and a judicial review.

Minister Bill Bennett speaks with CBC Radio One's The Early Edition, Wednesday morning at 7:40 a.m. PT

The individuals and groups, including the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Business Council of B.C. and provincial Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, gathered in Vancouver Tuesday to vouch for Taseko's New Prosperity mine, which would operate 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C.

The project has faced vehement opposition from members of local First Nations communities, who argue Fish Lake — considered sacred in their culture — would be damaged by the mine.

But B.C. Chamber of Commerce president John Winter says the province needs the mine, and the federal government must evaluate the project by considering the social and economic benefits that would be created for B.C.

In a report released in October, the Federal Review Panel found that Taseko's New Prosperity Mine would have "significant adverse environmental effects."

The panel specifically referenced the negative impacts that seepage from the mine's tailings would have on water quality and fish habitat in nearby Fish Lake.


The Tsilhqot'in National Government has strongly opposed Taseko's gold and copper mine project, saying the development will kill Fish Lake, preventing access to a place of spiritual importance. (CBC)

The proposal was rejected by the Ministry of Environment once before, following similar conclusions reached by the review panel in 2011, after the mining firm first proposed using the lake as a tailings pond. Taseko's revised proposal for the $1.5 billion project, submitted this year, included plans for conserving Fish Lake.

Taseko Mines Ltd. has launched a judicial review alleging the federal panel reviewing the second proposal used the wrong information to conclude the mine would result in adverse environmental effects.

The federal environment minister is expected to make a final ruling on the proposal by March 2014.

With files from CBC News