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Fish Lake Part 4: Battle Is Won, But What About the War?

An endangered grizzly bear population is at serious risk if Taseko ever succeeds in destroying Fish Lake and developing Prosperity Mine. An endangered grizzly bear population is at serious risk if Taseko ever succeeds in destroying Fish Lake and developing Prosperity Mine.

For the moment, the battle to save Fish Lake is over. The Tsilhqot'in Nation led the campaign to protect the area and their traditional territory, and won a reprieve when Canada’s federal government put the kibosh on Taseko Mines Limited proposed Prosperity Mine. The project was proposed for an area just outside of Williams Lake, British Columbia, home to endangered Grizzlies and a variety of other wild fauna and flora. But the war may not be over.

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Taseko has been trying to develop the area for nearly two decades. The region contains one of the world’s richest deposits of gold and copper, and the lust for material wealth is a powerful motivator in the corporate world. As such, Taseko has vowed to modify their proposal, and try once again to build a mine in the area. From their website: “Taseko is currently in discussions with both the Federal and Provincial Governments to define the issues and determine solutions so that this mining project can move forward and meet the criteria that the Federal Government deems appropriate. The company expects to have more information early in 2011.”

On one hand, the $800 million dollar mining project would have myriad positive effects on the people of British Columbia. The mine would create 700 jobs, something sorely needed in today’s economic climate, and in Williams Lake in particular, which was hit hard by an economic downturn in its forestry industry. But as much as it would be a boon to the economy, sooner or later, the mining project will run its course, and then there will be no more mining jobs, AND the wilderness area will have been destroyed permanently.

So further vigilance for defenders of the environment is still required. There’s little to suggest that Taseko will be deterred, and if there’s any doubt about whether environmental concerns could trump the mining company’s bottom line, here’s an anecdote to suggest otherwise:

In 2009 Taseko representatives attempted to have Nalaine Morin, a metallurgical technician familiar with the mining industry, removed from the federal review panel. They suggested Morin leave the panel because of her work with the Tahltan Central Council, a First Nations group in B.C., who works to preserve wildlife habitat, especially from commercial projects aimed at developing natural resources.

So does any of the above information make Morin an unsuitable person to advise whether Prosperity meets environmental standards? It’s difficult to see how that might be. In the end, Morin refused to step down, but this story indicates how little Taseko is interested in coming to a fair resolution, as opposed to making their millions.

Coming up in Part of 5 of RosebudMag.com’s Fish Lake series: a look at the role of First Nations in the battle over Fish Lake, and in the larger picture of industry vs. environment.

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Last modified on Monday, 29 October 2012 10:51

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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