Canadian miner Taseko asks court to set aside mine decision

VANCOUVER, March 26 Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:17pm EDT

VANCOUVER, March 26 (Reuters) - Canadian miner Taseko Mines Ltd on Wednesday asked a federal judge to set aside decisions by the country's environment minister and cabinet to reject its plans to build a copper and gold mine in British Columbia.

In a court filing, Taseko said the decisions should be quashed on a number of grounds including that the minister did not provide reasons for blocking the New Prosperity project and that she had met privately with parties opposed to the project without advising the company or giving it a chance to respond.

"We seek to rectify both the failed process and the decision that stemmed from it in a court of law, the only reasonable option open to us at this time," Taseko spokesman Brian Battison said in an email.

This is the second judicial review launched by Taseko regarding the development of the controversial C$1.5 billion ($1.35 billion) open pit mine. It applied for a review late last year into a government-appointed panel's conclusion that the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and harm the interests of nearby First Nations groups.

Canada's government, taking into account the panel's views, last month blocked the development of the controversial mine, the second time in just over three years that it has halted the mine plan.

A representative for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq could not immediately be reached for comment.

"The latest legal action is a desperate attempt by a desperate company to distract everyone from the facts," said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot'in First Nation said in a statement.

Taseko has said it has spent C$130 million so far developing the New Prosperity project. ($1 = 1.1143 Canadian Dollars) (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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