* Ottawa leaves door open for Taseko to submit new
* Taseko spokesman says decision will not kill project
* Taseko shares close up 4 Canadian cents
By Nicole Mordant
VANCOUVER, Feb 26 Canada's government has
blocked the development of a controversial copper and gold mine
owned by Taseko Mines Ltd, the second time in just over
three years that it has halted the mine plan.
The decision came after Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq
concluded that the New Prosperity mine project is "likely to
cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be
mitigated", a statement from the minister's office said.
However, Ottawa left the door open for Taseko, a small
Canadian copper miner, to submit a new development proposal for
the open-pit mine in south-central British Columbia.
"The government will continue to make responsible resource
development a priority and invites the submission of another
proposal that addresses the government's concerns," Aglukkaq
In making its decision, the federal government considered an
October 2013 report from an independent review panel on the
project and agreed with its conclusions that the mine plan poses
significant threats to the environment and nearby communities.
Taseko spokesman Brian Battison said the company was
"terribly disappointed" with the government's decision but that
it would not kill the project.
"This is not the end," Battison said, adding that Taseko
would spend the next few days working out what other course of
action was available to it.
The company will also press on with an existing judicial
review application that it has launched in which it argues that
the review panel's findings on water quality and mine seepage
were partly based on an error in the information it reviewed.
Ottawa blocked the project in November 2010 when it
overruled British Columbia's provincial government and refused
to allow the development of what was then called the Prosperity
project because of worries over its environmental impact.
Taseko revised its mine plan to address regulator concerns
and reapplied in 2012, but aboriginal groups and other opponents
say the revised proposal, if approved, would still harm a local
lake and the rights of indigenous groups in the area.
Taseko, which owns and operates the Gibraltar copper mine in
British Columbia, is challenging the findings of the
government-appointed review panel. The company has launched a
New Prosperity has a measured and indicated resource of 5.3
billion pounds of copper and 13.3 million ounces of gold, with
an estimated 20-year plus mine life. Taseko expects the project
to create close to 2,000 jobs and generate more than $1 billion
in government revenue.
Taseko shares, which have dropped 22 percent over the last
twelve months along with other mining stocks, closed at C$2.37
on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday, up 4 Canadian cents.