Taseko cries foul over panel review

New Prosperity
Taseko Mines (TSX:TKO) is crying foul after a federal review panel shot holes through the plans for its billion-dollar New Propserity Mine last week.

According to the company, the three-person panel that reviewed the project wasn't looking at the right documents when it ruled last week that the proposed gold and copper mine in British Columbia would pose "several significant adverse environmental effects".

Taseko says that the panel relied on the wrong tailings storage facility design. The design, which Natural Resources Canada provided the panel with, is "completely different than the Taseko design," the company noted in a news release on Wednesday.

Based on the model from NRC, the panel concluded that the tailing pond would allow chemicals to seep into Fish Lake. Taseko says the actual soil liner it plans on using would restrict seepage.

A "lead engineering consultants on the New Prosperity Project, Knight Piesold" brought this to the company's attention.

Final approval or rejection of the mine now rests with the federal Minister for the Environment, but Taseko says it will challenge the panel's findings and request that the minister consider additional information before making a decision.

The Federal government has already rejected the project once in 2010 after it accepted a previous panel's findings that the project would "result in significant adverse environmental effects."

The fate of Fish Lake is one of the biggest debates surrounding the project. Environmental groups oppose the company's plans to replace Little Fish Lake – an area upstream of Fish Lake – with a waste water storage facility.

But the tailings storage facility is not the only issue. Opponents also claim that the project would infringe on traditional land use rights and grizzly bear populations.

Fish Lake, South Chilcotin area

Fish Lake, South Chilcotin area | Image courtesy of Jonaki Bhattacharyya