Taseko Mines Ltd.’s two judicial reviews regarding the rejection of its New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine project, 120 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, have been dismissed by the Federal Court.
In his written decision dated Dec. 5, Federal Court Judge Michael L. Phelan dismissed the judicial reviews, noting “the Court concludes that the panel did not breach any procedural fairness and the panel’s factual findings were open for it to make and were reasonable.”
Taseko filed its first judicial review on November 29, 2013, challenging certain findings of the Canadian Environmental Assessment panel and alleging the panel failed to comply with principles of procedural fairness.
After the project was rejected by the federal government in Feb. 2014, the company filed the second judicial review, asking the Federal Court to set aside decisions by the CEAA, the Minister of Environment and the Governor in Council because of “a failure to observe the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.”
TNG Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said the Tsilhqot’in people are relieved and happy with the Federal Court decision.
“Politicians may not recognize our title case, but judges do,” Alphonse said referring to the Tsilhqot’in rights and title win of June 2014 that declared Aboriginal title to 1,700 square kilometres in the Cariboo Chilcotin region. “Again the courts have stepped up and done the honourable thing.”
Alphonse said the ruling sends a “strong” message to industry about the importance of working with First Nations.
“We want to have opportunities, but it’s got to be done with our input and our views right from the beginning,” he said.
Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison e-mailed the Tribune Wednesday, noting at this point the company declined comment on the ruling, as it is “reviewing and considering the decision.”
Before New Prosperity, the original Prosperity Mine project was also rejected by the CEAA in 2010.
Earlier this summer the provincial government approved Taseko’s exploration drilling permits for the New Prosperity Mine project, however after both the TNG and the federal government filed injunctions, Taseko suspended the work.