08/06/2013 12:37 EDT | Updated 10/06/2013 05:12 EDT

New Prosperity Mine Hearings: First Nation Seeks Private Meeting

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - Members of a First Nation band in B.C.'s Chilcotin have requested a private hearing as a federal review panel examines a proposed open pit mine near Williams Lake.

The Xeni (honey) Gwet'in want the confidential session as they discuss identification of ancestral graves around the proposed New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

The review panel holds hearings on the road this week as it travels to First Nations communities around the huge mine, proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd.

Critics fear the billion-dollar mine will destroy culturally significant Fish Lake and they doubt Taseko's claim that the plan has been revised and the lake will be spared.

Although the New Prosperity mine has previously failed to pass the federal environmental assessment process, the B.C. government approved it in 2010, finding that economic benefits outweigh environmental considerations.

The review panel is expected to decide by late Wednesday whether to hold private hearings with the Xeni Gwet'in. (CHNL)

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous story said the mine had been rejected twice in an environmental assessment

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