New Prosperity mine proposal must be put on review fast-track – Vancouver Sun Editorial (October 27, 2011)

The Vancouver Sun, a broadsheet daily paper first published in 1912, has the largest circulation in the province of British Columbia.

A fact sheet about Williams Lake put out by the city’s economic development office cites statistics on building permits, business licences, real estate and the labour force, providing a snapshot of the local economy.

Under the Industry subheading, it lists the price of just two commodities, gold and copper, the lifeblood of the region. At its doorstep lies one of Canada’s largest gold-copper deposits, holding the promise of 13.3 million ounces of gold and 5.3 billion pounds of copper.

Primary industries and services related to them represent the largest source of employment here and the income generated supports other businesses that maintain the city’s viability and vitality. So, when former federal environment minister Jim Prentice killed Taseko Mines’ Prosperity mine last November, it hit the city hard.

City officials and the provincial government, which approved it, knew what that project meant to the people of Williams Lake, even if the federal government and outside agitators that campaigned against it did not. Fortunately, Ottawa left the door slightly ajar. It agreed to entertain a revised proposal from the company.

Taseko submitted a new plan in February that added $300 million in capital investment to the $1.5-billion project to respond to environmental concerns, specifically the preservation of Fish Lake.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency took until August – not to approve it, but to simply accept the project’s description.

The company also prepared a study that itemizes some of the benefits expected to accrue over the 20-year lifespan of the mine. These include an increase of 71,000 jobs, as well as an increase of $11 billion in real gross domestic product, $4.3 billion in federal government revenue and $5.5 billion in provincial revenue; an increase in consumer spending of $9 billion and in residential investment expenditure of $786 million. Non-residential construction investment would increase by $1 billion and investment in machinery and equipment by companies other than Taseko would rise by $1.4 billion.

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