Canada panel says revised Taseko mine plan may harm environment

Fri Nov 1, 2013 1:40am EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

Nov 1 (Reuters) - A revised mine plan for Taseko Mines' New Prosperity copper-gold project in British Columbia still poses significant threats to the environment and nearby communities, a Canadian federal review panel said late on Thursday.

Water quality in a trout-bearing lake beside the proposed mine, fish in the lake, land and resources used for traditional purposes by certain Aboriginal groups, and their cultural heritage would be most at risk from the project, the panel said.

The grizzly bear population in south-central British Columbia will also suffer unless mitigation steps are taken, the three members of the panel said in their 323-page report.

"Fish in Fish Lake and wetland and riparian ecosystems near Fish Lake and Wasp Lake might not meet the needs of future generations," said the panel, set up by Canada's environment minister in 2011.

The panel is not a decision-making body but its report will play a key role in the final decision by Canada's environment minister on whether the project should go ahead.

The Canadian government is expected to decide whether the open pit mine can go ahead within 120 days, meaning a decision is likely by the end of February.

Taseko could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ottawa in 2010 overruled British Columbia's provincial government and blocked the development of the Taseko project because of worries over its environmental impact.   Continued...