Opinion: Time for Taseko to do the right thing – by Joe Alphonse and Bernie Mack (Vancouver Sun – May 2, 2016)


Chief Joe Alphonse is Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government. Chief Bernie Mack is Chief of the Esdilagh First Nation.

The Information Circular released by Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML) on March 31st states, “Taseko has a very successful relationship with First Nations at Gibraltar”. We respectfully and strongly disagree with this statement and we need to set the record straight so shareholders are fully informed about TML management’s record in dealing with the Tsilhqot’in Nation. We can only describe this record as disrespectful.

TML has operated the 44-year old Gibraltar Mine — Canada’s second largest open pit copper mine — since 1999. Esdilagh, a member of Tsilhqot’in Nation, is the closest Aboriginal community to Gibraltar Mine; its reserve lands almost directly adjoin the mine site.

For years, the Tsilhqot’in Nation and Esdilagh have urged the management of TML to enter into a meaningful Impact Benefit Agreement with Esdilagh, so there is a share in the benefits from the mining operation and not just the decades of negative impacts.

However, to date, TML’s management has offered only short-term agreements on terms unacceptable to ?Esdilagh and, in our view, far below industry standards. As a result, TML still does not have ?Esdilagh or Tsilhqot’in consent for the Gibraltar Mine.

The management of TML has also been repeatedly disrespectful, litigious and insensitive in matters involving the Tsilhqot’in Nation. In particular, TML’s management has twice embarked on trying to get the Prosperity, and then New Prosperity, project permitted in an area of profound cultural and spiritual importance to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation had warned TML’s management — in no uncertain terms — the area was too highly important to our people and to the survival of our culture to allow the mine to proceed, and contrary to our draft mining policy.

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