Initial exploration activity in the vicinity of the Prosperity deposit was undertaken by prospectors in the early 1930’s. In 1963-64, Phelps Dodge conducted a small exploration drilling program. Taseko acquired the property in 1969 and exploration drilling continued in the 1970’s and 1980’s under option agreements with several mining companies. Hunter Dickinson acquired Taseko in 1991 and proceeded with extensive drilling, engineering, metallurgical and socioeconomic programs. The work carried out in the 1990’s succeeded in delineating a bulk tonnage porphyry gold-copper mineral resource at Prosperity. By 1998, Taseko had advanced the project to the pre-feasibility and feasibility stages. However, in 2000 prevailing metal prices - copper price ranging from US$0.60 - $0.80 per pound and gold price ranging from US$250-300 per ounce - and a poor outlook for price performance resulted in the decision to put the project on hold.
In 2006, with gold and copper prices strengthening, Taseko re-started work on the project. A feasibility study was completed in 2007 and in 2009, using metal prices that better reflected a bullish outlook for gold and copper, Prosperity’s mineral reserves were doubled.
2010 marked the culmination of a rigorous Federal and Provincial government review process for Prosperity. The development application - based upon years of third party scientific analyses - was reviewed under both the British Columbia and Canadian Environmental Assessment Acts.
Following these reviews, the Province of British Columbia granted Taseko the right to proceed with development, however, the Federal Government decided the project could not be justified as proposed and invited Taseko to submit a new design to address their concerns.
Both the Federal and Provincial Governments concluded in 2010 that the Prosperity Gold-Copper Project was not likely to have any significant adverse effects on: air quality, surface or groundwater quality, wildlife, vegetation, including old growth forest, grasslands and wetlands, fish in the Taseko river, water quality in Onion Lake, human health, traffic, biodiversity, noise emissions, archaeological resources, or mule deer and moose habitat.
Taseko submitted a new project description to the Federal Government in June of 2011. In November 2011, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced that the new plan named “New Prosperity” would be assessed by a Federal review panel. The Minister of the Environment directed the agency to ensure that information obtained during the previous environmental assessment was used to the extent possible to ensure a timely decision. The New Prosperity gold-copper project proposal is a revised plan that builds on the core strengths of the original Prosperity proposal.
New Prosperity aims to deliver significant economic value to British Columbia and Canada while at the same time limit the impact to the environment and address concerns of aboriginal people.
The New Prosperity project design preserves Fish Lake and directly addresses the concerns of the Federal Government, at an additional cost of $300 million over the originally designed project. The project is able to adsorb the $300 million in additional costs associated with the design because of higher long-term prices for gold and copper, than prevailed at the time of the original project submission.
New Prosperity retains all of its original designs from which “no adverse effects” would result while directly addressing the concerns that emerged around the elimination of Fish Lake, which is no longer part of the development plan. In 2012, CEAA reviewed New Prosperity under a new Review Panel. A three member independent panel appointed by the Federal Government was assigned to review the project, to conduct public hearings and write a report to be submitted to the Canadian Minister of Environment.
The thirty days of Public Hearings which began July 22, 2013, provided an opportunity for the public to participate in the environmental assessment process and offer their views on the project and its relationship to the future of the Cariboo region. The hearings took place in Williams Lake and surrounding communities.
On October 31st, 2013, the panel submitted its 323 page report to the Minister of Environment.
In February 2014 the Government of Canada announced it will not issue the federal authorizations necessary for the New Prosperity Project to proceed. The Company fundamentally disagrees with the federal government’s decision and believes they based their decision on a panel report which contains serious flaws.
To understand these concerns fully, these letters important letters are available for you to read:
On February 11, 2016 Taseko filed a civil claim in the BC Supreme Court against the Canadian federal government. The claim seeks damages in relation to the February 25, 2014 decision concerning the New Prosperity Project claiming the Government of Canada and its agents failed to meet the legal duties that were owed to Taseko and that in doing so they caused and continue to cause damages, expenses and loss to Taseko.
Currently, there are two federal judicial reviews underway in regards to New Prosperity.
The first, which commenced on November 29 2013, challenges certain Panel findings and the Panel’s failure to comply with principles of procedural fairness.
The second Judicial Review commended on March 26, 2014. Taseko is asking the Federal Court to set aside decisions by the CEAA, the Minister of Environment and the Governor in Council because of “a failure to observe the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.”
Judicial review applications: