The New Prosperity gold and copper mine project near Fish Lake has been rejected once again by the federal Ministry of Environment, in the latest of a long back-and-forth between Taseko Mines and the Canadian government.
Minister of Environment, Leona Agluqqak, has concluded the controversial project, which has been rejected twice before, is likely to cause irreversible environmental damage. In a statement, the ministry said the project will not proceed.
An independent review panel found environmental damage to the Fish Lake watershed would be irreparable. Taseko has come back with numerous proposals for the open pit mine, roughly 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C.
Both this reincarnation of the Taseko Mines proposal and a previous one were supported by the B.C. Liberal government.
Taseko Mines Ltd. launched a judicial review in 2013 alleging the federal panel reviewing the second proposal used the wrong information to conclude the mine would result in adverse environmental effects.
The project has faced vehement opposition from members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation, who argue Fish Lake — considered sacred in their culture — would be damaged by the mine.
The first time Taseko's proposal was rejected by the Ministry of Environment, the decision was based on similar conclusions reached by the review panel in 2011. In that proposal, the mining firm proposed using the lake as a tailings pond.
Taseko's revised proposal for the $1.5 billion project, submitted this year, included plans for conserving Fish Lake.
The company has estimated the New Prosperity mine would generate 550 direct jobs and $340 million in gross domestic product annually.
Taseko's original proposal received provincial approval in 2010, but the federal government rejected the plan, which would have drained a lake of cultural significance to First Nations for use as a tailings pond.