BC Chamber of Commerce rallies support for Taseko's New Prosperity

As the Canadian federal government mulls over whether to approve Taseko Mine's New Prosperity mine in British Columbia, the BC Chamber of Commerce and friends are doing their part to encourage a positive outcome for Taseko.

Speaking at a Chamber-sponsored event on Tuesday, Mayor of Williams Lake Kerry Cook urged the government to approve the $1.5 billion open-pit copper and gold mine near Williams Lake.

The region is heavily dependent on the mining and forestry industries. But with the pine beetle epidemic ravaging the forestry sector, Williams Lake and its neighbours need to diversify their economies, Cook explained.

Responsible mining is "one of the most viable ways to sustain our communities," Cook said, calling on the Federal government to consider "all information" when making a decision.

Taseko has been waging a very public battle against the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) – an independent body which studied the New Prosperity plans and concluded that the project would pose "several significant adverse environmental effects." The mining company claims that the CEAA was looking at the wrong tailings facility design during its review, an alleged error which Taseko called 'outrageous.'

The Federal government is now assessing the project, with the panel's allegedly-flawed review as guidance. Last week the miner commenced a federal judicial review, asking the court to set aside certain findings of the panel.

First Nation support came from Ervin Charleyboy, a former chief of the Alexis Creek First Nation. Charleyboy said he's been ostracised by many in his community for supporting the project, and claims that young people who want to see New Prosperity developed are afraid of saying so publicly.

Also present at Tuesday's meeting was the BC Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett who lamented the declining forestry industry and boasted the environmental record of Canadian mining companies.

"The government of BC wants to see the project proceed," Bennett said, before concluding that "this is just the beginning, not the end."

Over the next few days Bennett will meet with members of the Federal government to explain the merits of the project. He believes the outcome will be favourable.