Taseko's New Prosperity mine challenged by Tsilhqot'in park plan

A controversial B.C. mine project faces another obstacle under new aboriginal title rights.

Tsilhqot'in ruling puts hurdle in front of controversial mine project

Taseko Mines Limited is trying to figure out what implications a new tribal park has on its plans for the New Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake. (CBC)

Taseko's controversial New Prosperity mine project was hit by yet another obstacle Thursday, as a vast swath of B.C.'s Chilcotin region was earmarked as a tribal park by the Tsilhqot'in First Nation.

News of the proposed tribal park—to include over 3,000 square kilometres of land—came on the same day as the B.C. government held a historic meeting with First Nations to discuss the Tsilhqot'in's landmark court win on aboriginal title rights.

Though the 1,750-square-kilometre title ruling does not include the proposed mine site around Fish Lake, the Tsilhqot'in have incorporated the area within the park's boundaries.

"It's an area, from what I understand, that needs to be protected for habitat, for wildlife, grizzly, for salmon spawning areas," Ed John, Grand Chief of the First Nations Summit, told CBC News. "It's an important area."

Taseko Vice President Brian Battison said he had heard talk previously about the park, but now that an opening ceremony is slated for next month, he needs to find out where it leaves the Prosperity project.

"We really don't know what that means when that declaration is made by some local First Nations," he said, noting that the company was moving forward with the gold and copper mining project despite it having been rejected twice by the federal government.

John confirmed that the Tsilhqot'in do plan to approve lighter resource development, such as mobile saw mills, in the park.

With files from the CBC's Rafferty Baker

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