Canada natives assail plan to revive rejected mine
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - If Taseko Mines presses ahead with a plan to build a mine on aboriginal lands in British Columbia it could harm the province's plans to expand the mining sector, a native leader said on Wednesday.
Last November, the federal government turned down Taseko's bid to build its C$1 billion ($1 billion) Prosperity gold-copper mine on the grounds that it would do too much environmental damage.
The company has now submitted an altered bid which it says addresses Ottawa's concerns. But aboriginal groups - which are particularly influential in British Columbia - complain the new plan would do even more damage than the first.
One native leader said the affair could impede the Pacific province's strategy of opening eight mines and expanding nine existing mines in the next four years.
Aboriginal groups, who refer to themselves as First Nations, have in the past sought to drag out the already lengthy process of gaining approval for industrial projects by launching lawsuits.
Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said he did not "think it would be a prudent notion to sacrifice" the province's mining strategy for the sake of Prosperity.
"We suggest that in the event this proposal were to move forward it would poison the well, so to speak, and it would undermine the ability of indigenous groups, industry and government to come together," he told a news conference.
"We've indicated ... that we want to work with the provincial government and move forward on a (mining) strategy but this particular issue could give that a black eye and undermine that goodwill that is currently there," he said. Continued...