UPDATE 1-Taseko Mines to challenge findings of environment threat

Fri Nov 1, 2013 12:04pm EDT
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(Adds CEO quote, share activity, government and aboriginal comment)

By Rod Nickel

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Taseko Mines Ltd said on Friday that it would challenge findings of a Canadian federal review panel that said the company's revised plan for a copper-gold mine in British Columbia posed significant threats to the environment.

Shares of Taseko were down 8.6 percent at C$2.34 in midday trading in Toronto, following the release of the panel's report late on Thursday.

The 323-page report cited risks from the proposed New Prosperity mine to water quality in an adjacent trout-bearing lake, as well as land and resources used for traditional purposes by certain aboriginal groups.

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

Vancouver-based Taseko said the findings contradicted expert opinions and best practices in place around the world.

"Taseko is committed to protecting Fish Lake, and fish habitat, and we strongly disagree with the panel's findings related to the potential impact on the water quality, fish and fish habitat of Fish Lake," Taseko Chief Executive Officer Russell Hallbauer said in a statement.

Hallbauer said the report mostly supported the company's position that there would not be significant adverse effects and said that the mine's social and economic benefits were "enormous."   Continued...