British Columbia

Rejected B.C. mine project makes new bid

Owners of B.C.'s controversial Prosperity mine have launched a second attempt to get the $1-billion project approved.
Taseko Mines Ltd. says its new proposal for the Prosperity gold and copper mine near Williams Lake, B.C., will not destroy Fish Lake, which the company's first proposal called for. (CBC)

Owners of B.C.'s controversial Prosperity mine have launched a second attempt to get the $1-billion project approved.

The gold and copper mine near Williams Lake was opposed by First Nations and ultimately failed an environmental assessment, released in July 2010 by the federal environment ministry.

The B.C. environment ministry had already aproved the project

On Monday, Taseko Mines Ltd., of Vancouver, submitted a revised plan for the mine that addressed the major concern of both natives and officials — the proposed destruction of Fish Lake.

The original proposal called for the lake to be drained and turned into a dump for toxic tailings from the mine, poisoning much of the watershed in which it lies.

That would wipe out 90,000 rainbow trout, according to the Tsilhqot'in and Secwepemc First Nations.

The company said there was no alternative.

Metal prices up sharply

Taseko's new proposal now would preserve Fish Lake and all its aquatic life, the company said.

What's changed is the price of gold and copper, making it possible to pay for a more expensive solution to the waste problem, said CEO Russell Hallbauer.

"Price projections for copper average about $2.50 [per pound] and for gold above $1,000 [per ounce], nearly two times the prices we used in our original assessment," Hallbauer said. "We are now able to consider and advance this new design proposal which adds construction costs and life of mine operating expenditures of approximately $300 million."

The company said in a release Monday that the proposal greatly reduces environmental impacts [and] preserves Fish Lake and its aquatics.

There is no timeline for environmental approval, but Taseko said it hoped the environmental assessment would only have to review the aspects of the proposal that have changed.

With files from the CBC's Betsy Trumpener

now