Tsilhqot’in Nation Goes to Court to Protect Lake from Acid Mining

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The Tsilhqot’in Nation filed a writ in B.C. Supreme Court today claiming an Aboriginal right to fish. The claim, if successful, will prevent Taseko Mines Ltd. from developing its proposed Prosperity Project, 125 km southwest of Williams Lake. The proposed mine pit, and the construction of the mine tailings and waste rock disposal areas, would completely destroy Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).

The court action, brought by Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation on behalf of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, is seeking a declaration of an Aboriginal right to fish in Teztan Biny, a pristine mountain lake in the heart of Tsilhqot’in territory. For the Tsilhqot’in, the lake is sacred and its destruction unthinkable. The court action aims to permanently stop Taseko from using this natural lake as a disposal site for its toxic mine tailings, a controversial mining practice in Canada that threatens to leave a legacy of environmental contamination that will last for millennia.

The proposed Prosperity Project would also require a 125 km power transmission line and the construction of a ‘replacement’ lake, something Taseko calls a Fish Compensation Plan. The project is currently entering federal and provincial environmental review processes and is set to go into development as early as 2010, if approved. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has previously opposed the destruction of the lake because of its ‘no net loss’ to fish habitat policy



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