For decades, Taseko Mines Limited (TML) has tried to get approval for a low-grade, copper and gold mine at Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake). The Prosperity/New Prosperity Project is one of the most contested mining proposals in Canada, with major environmental issues, and lacking the free, prior and informed consent from the Indigenous peoples affected.
The most recent proposal, the "New" Prosperity Project, was rejected in 2014 by the Government of Canada following a scathing Federal Review Panel Report in 2013. This was done under the leadership of a majority Conservative Government led by former Prime Minister Harper. In response, TML filed Judicial Reviews of both the 2013 Panel Report and the 2014 rejection of the mine. TML lost all appeals with a final rejection of its claims when the Supreme Court of Canada refused its leave to appeal in 2019.
The name of this proposed mine, “Prosperity,” is ironic, given the devastation that it would mean for lands and waters that continue to provide our people cultural and spiritual prosperity. The company itself, Taseko Mines Ltd., takes its name from a river near the proposed mine site, which feeds our communities and the Fraser River with its wild salmon runs. We are deeply concerned that, beyond the immediate destruction of the mine’s footprint in this critical cultural area, there may be a serious risk of contamination of the Taseko River and on to the Fraser River, which provides one of the most abundant salmon runs in the world. The English name for the Taseko River, and for the company itself, is taken from our ancient Tŝilhqot’in name for this river – the Dasiqox. The original Prosperity mine plan was assessed by an independent federal Panel in 2010 after a series of public hearings. The Panel issued a report identifying an unprecedented range and magnitude of cultural and environmental impacts, including devastating impacts on Tŝilhqot’in culture, heritage and Aboriginal rights. The Panel’s report was described by the (then) federal Minister of Environment as one of the most ‘scathing’ reviews he had ever read.
Days after the November 2010 rejection of the previous proposal, the company announced that it would resubmit a new plan. The revised plan, renamed the “New” Prosperity Mine, was also rejected by the Canadian Government in 2014. There were reasons to believe that this revised plan was in fact worse than the previously rejected proposal, despite the claims by the company that it has somehow ‘saved’ Teẑtan Biny. In fact, this “New” Prosperity application turned out to be a re-working of an earlier alternative mine design, called Mine Development Plan #2, which the previous Panel, Environment Canada and the company itself agreed posed an “even greater longterm environmental risk.” Many of the project components remained exactly the same, including placing a massive open pit in close proximity to Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake), and destroying Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and the Tŝilhqot’in homes and graves located near that lake, to make way for a massive tailings pond.