Green Party to Minister of Environment: Heed federal panel’s warnings on controversial BC copper mine

Following Thursday’s release of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Report of the Federal Review Panel: New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine Project, the Green Party of Canada is calling on Federal Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq to reject a development proposal for an open-pit copper mine at Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) in the central BC interior.

In November 2010, then-Minister of Environment Jim Prentice made headlines for vetoing a previous proposal for a copper mine at Fish Lake, citing the potential damage to the lake and surrounding wilderness if the project were to go ahead.

The revised proposal for the mine, which would be located in the traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc Nations, would have the tailings ponded shifted a mere 2.5 km upstream of the lake and according to the company’s own estimates would still cover an area of 27 square kilometers, with irreparable damage to surrounding lakes, rivers and forests.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called on Minister Aglukkaq to “follow Prentice’s lead” and act in accordance with the panel’s findings. “In 2010, this government listened to what the experts were saying and made the right decision on the Fish Lake project” said the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, “We hope the Minister of Environment will do the same today.”

The CEAA report, which is the result of months of public hearings and consultation with Aboriginal groups, scientists and industry experts, concludes that the New Prosperity Project “would result in several significant adverse environmental effects; the key ones being effects on water quality in Fish Lake, on fish and fish habitat.., on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by certain Aboriginal groups, and on their cultural heritage.”