Taseko Mines reported on November 2 Canada’s Federal Minister of Environment had withheld authorization for the company to proceed with its Prosperity open-pit gold-copper mine project, “as proposed,” 125 km southwest of Williams Lake, British Columbia. “Once the company has had the opportunity to fully evaluate and understand the process whereby the federal government came to that conclusion, contrary to the Provincial government decision, we will be in a better position to evaluate our options,” the Taseko statement said.

Russell Hallbauer, president and CEO of Taseko, said, “We are extremely disappointed by this decision, not only for our shareholders but for the communities that were relying on the development of Prosperity to help offset the economic situation in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Our next steps will be discussions with both the federal and provincial governments to look at options so this mining project can move forward and meet the criteria the federal government deem appropriate.”

The federal government based its decision to withhold approval of Prosperity project development on a Federal Review Panel report dated July 2, 2010. The 296-page report considered a wide range of environmental and social issues, and with respect to almost all of these issues concluded the project would not have significant adverse effects. The major, and evidently decisive, exception was the conclusion that “the project would result in a significant adverse effect on fish and fish habitat in the Teztan Yeqox (Fish Creek) watershed.” The full report is accessible for downloading at the Taseko Web site, www.tasekomines.com.  

The Prosperity deposit is a gold-copper porphyry with a 1 billion mt measured and indicated resource, containing 5.3 billion lb of copper and 13.3 million oz of gold. Mine life has been planned at 33 years at a milling rate of 70,000 mt/d. Total operating costs net of byproduct credits are estimated at $0.59/lb copper.