Drilling permit issued to Taseko's New Prosperity mine not legal: CEAA

A drilling permit issued a week and a half ago by the government of British Columbia, Canada's most western province, to let Taseko Mines (TSX:TKO) conduct geotechnical work for its contentious New Prosperity mine is a violation of federal environmental law, warns the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).

The CEAA has sent Taseko what amounts to a cease and desist order, despite the fact the company has a permit from the provincial government to do the drilling.

On July 17, the Tsilhqot’in First Nation received news that the Ministry of Energy and Mines had issued Taseko a drilling permit to carry out geotechnical work for its New Prosperity copper mine, which lies just outside the area where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2014 they have aboriginal rights. The Tsilhqot'in have long opposed the mine.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) granted an environmental certificate for the project in 2010.

But the CEAA has twice refused to grant a federal environmental certificate, and on Friday, July 28, the CEAA sent a letter to Taseko warning that any drilling would be a violation of federal environmental laws and warned the company could be fined.

“Enforcement action may be taken should Taseko Mines Limited not comply with the requirements of CEAA 2012,” the CEAA states in its letter, a copy of which was provided to Business in Vancouver.

“This is great news for us,” Tsilhqot’in Chief Roger William told BIV. “We’re pretty excited that this country is upholding and ensuring the decision that they made doesn’t get impacted.”

Despite now having the CEAA letter, the Tsilhqot’in are not taking anything for granted and still plan to file for an injunction on Monday, July 31 to prevent Taseko from doing any work.

“We don’t want to take chances,” William said.

Taseko could not be immediately reached for comment.

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