Taseko files papers to set aside New Prosperity findings

Taseko Mines (TSX:TKO) on Monday announced it has commenced a federal judicial review, seeking to set aside certain findings of a federal review panel that found problems with the plans for its billion-dollar New Propserity Mine.

Vancouver-based Taseko is asking the court for a declaration that certain findings of the three-person panel relating to seepage and water quality at the central BC gold-copper project adjacent to Fish Lake be set aside, and that the panel "failed in certain respects to comply with principles of procedural fairness."

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.

"The judicial review will address the question of whether Natural Resources Canada – and in turn the panel – made a fundamental error when determining expected seepage rates from the tailings storage facility. Taseko believes the evidence is clear that NRCan failed to account for a liner that would be part of the tailings storage facility – thus modeling the wrong project design and assuming water would seep into open ground," Taseko said in a statement.

"The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency requested Taseko's response to several questions regarding this matter and the company has provided that information in letters dated November 8 and November 15, 2013 to the Minister of Environment and to CEAA respectively which are publicly available.

"Taseko had no choice but to file this application in order to comply with a 30 day time limit. But we remain of the view that the federal government should allow the project to proceed to the next stage of detailed permit-level examination and if so the judicial review would not need to proceed," said Taseko President and CEO Russell Hallbauer.

The panel found that the project was not likely to have significant adverse effects in approximately 30 different areas including human health, salmon habitat and wildlife. Those findings are not being challenged, Taseko said.

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."

Fish Lake, South Chilcotin area

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