Vancouver Sun, Province – Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity proposal remains centre of contention. By Derrick Penner.

By Derrick Penner.

Taseko Mines Ltd.’s much-disputed, twice-rejected New Prosperity mine proposal remains the centre of contention with a federal stop-work order on further exploration and two court actions by First Nations aimed at overturning provincial permits that allow geotechnical work on the property.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) considers that proposed exploration work to be “in connection with carrying out” the mine project the federal government rejected in 2014 and subject to enforcement action if the company starts the work, according to a letter issued to the company on July 28. Taseko and the province also face a legal challenge by members of the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, with lawsuits aimed at overturning the province’s decision to grant permits to the company.

Taseko CEO Russell Hallbauer, however, casts the controversy as a jurisdictional dispute between the province and federal government because the company’s geotechnical drilling, excavation and seismic testing isn’t part of building the project as defined in the CEAA. “We’re not working on the project as designated,” said Hallbauer. “We’re gathering information, which we’re allowed to do.”

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