11/19/2013 03:18 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Taseko Prosperity Mine: Panel's Mistake On Lake Contamination Is 'Outrageous'


VANCOUVER - The company proposing a $1.5-billion mine in British Columbia's Interior says a mistake in the environmental assessment by two federal agencies is so outrageous it's nearly unfathomable.

In a letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Taseko Mines Ltd. questions why the panel conducting an environmental review on the proposed New Prosperity mine would use incorrect information for its final assessment.

Earlier this month, an agency panel released a report saying it didn't believe Taseko's design for the proposed copper and gold mine could avoid contaminating nearby Fish Lake.

However, Taseko said in letters to both the assessment agency and federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq that Natural Resources Canada assumed the tailings storage would be placed on the ground, instead of on an engineered liner.

Brian Battison, vice-president of corporate affairs at Taseko, doesn't know how the mistake happened, but says the model the panel used isn't what the company put forward on stopping pollution from seeping into the lake.

The minister needs to make a decision on the mine near Williams Lake within 120 days of the release of the panel report and if she rejects the mine, then cabinet will have to weigh in on whether the project is justified.

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