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B.C. Fast-Tracks Prosperity Mine Ahead of Federal Enviro Review

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Leapfrogging over federal environmental studies and a land-claims case due to be settled by year's end, the British Columbia government has granted permits to Taseko Mines Ltd. to drill holes and otherwise explore options for the New Prosperity Mine, on Tsilhqot’in lands.

The license granted by British Columbia officials would allow Taseko to dril 60 holes, build 15 miles of road or trail and cut 53,000 cubic feet of forest in a so-called disturbance area of 33 acres.

B.C. has done this just before the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) Panel is due to release its decision on what kind of environmental review to undertake for this revision on Taseko's newest attempt to build a mine at Fish Lake. A ruling on the appeal of the Tsilhqot'in Rights and Title Case is also expected to come down by year's end.

The Tsilhqot'in and other First Nation groups have registered their disapproval each step of the way. The Prosperity Mine was turned down last year because of the damage it would cause to traditional lands and the environment. Taseko renamed it New Prosperity and resubmitted the plan, which the Nations said is worse than last year's.

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"This is not a new proposal and does not address the issues," the Tsilhqot’in National Government said in a statement detailing "Ten Reasons Why the Prosperity Mine Bid Will Fail." "It is Mine Development Plan 2, which the company reject lasted year, and which the federal review panel rejected in its report."

The Assembly of First Nations has pledged to back the Tsilhqot'in in their opposition to the mine.

"The Tsilhqot’in Nation considers the approvals issued by British Columbia unlawful because of the Province’s failure to meaningfully consult or accommodate our Nation or to justify the impacts on our proven Aboriginal rights to hunt and trap throughout those lands," the First Nation said in a statement. "We remain confident that the Federal Government will continue to do the right thing and once again reject this clearly unacceptable mine proposal."