Taskeko's New Prosperity project is a billion-dollar open pit mine near Williams Lake that represents the tenth largest undeveloped gold-copper deposit in the world. For half a century since its discovery, the deposit has remained buried among the pristine lakes and mountains of British Columbia's wild Chilcotin region.
The Federal Government rejected a previous version of this project in 2010, due to concerns about the impact on Fish Lake.
Taseko Vice President Brian Battison is confident this time that the panel won't find any significant environmental issues.
"I suppose it would be fair to say everybody's a bit anxious, and by that I mean not only ourselves, but also people in the Cariboo that are looking forward to the project getting a green light,” says Battison. “It's a priority for the communities of Quesnel, and Williams Lake, and 100 Mile."
Taseko has proposed to spend an additional 300 million dollars to minimize the impact on Fish Lake. But local First Nations claim the project would still destroy it.
“Nothing has changed, “says Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “This is about the environment – it’s not about cheerleading the benefits of the mining industry. We’re very confident that the results will be the same as the last time out.”
While the Review Panel report will have recommendations, it cannot approve or reject the mine, with the federal Ministry of Environment having final say on the project.