Reacting to criticisms presented throughout the first four days of the New Prosperity Mine federal review panel, Taseko’s senior vice-president of operations Jim McManus said Thursday he’d be fearful of the project if he believed a lot of what he heard.
“I heard a lot of fear about aspects of the project and effects of the project and anger and frustration about bringing such a project forward,” McManus said.
“A short mine life, a marginal operation, toxins, poisons, cultural genocide, massive destruction and temporary foreign workers were some of the things we heard,” McManus recalled.
“We heard 90,000 hectare footprint of the mine site, when the footprint is actually 2,000 hectares, that’s the disturbed area, 90,000 hectares is the entire Fish Creek watershed,” McManus said.
Taseko has no intention of using temporary foreign workers and has 1,400 active resumes on file, he added.
While it’s true that old mines closed and left taxpayers on the hook for the cleanup, the Mine’s Act in B.C.’s article 10.4 gives the province the legal authority and obliges companies to put sufficient reclamation and closure bonding in place in the event of premature closure, McManus said.
“Throughout my career and working with Taseko I’ve worked to improve the standards as much as my own performance in the industry as a whole, so listening to some of this has been quite difficult.”
McManus said the consultation he has worked on with the Tsilhqot’in National Government and with Xeni Gwet’in was not “lip service.”
“The letter of intent agreement that was drawn up between Chief Roger William, myself, and Chief Joe Alphonse, was worked on,” McManus recalled.
“All the chiefs at the time signed off on it.”
Recently the company evaluated itself in its community engagement and consultation efforts and gave itself a “B,” which McManus said means the company has a long way to go and will work towards that goal.
McManus said Taseko never heard the term “cultural genocide” until about 2008.
“Working with other chiefs at the time it was all about the lake and protecting the rivers,” McManus said.
“We’ve done everything we can to achieve that and we’ve put together a plan to save the lake.”
There’s no intention to destroy the “sacred” aspect of the area, McManus added.
“We run the Gibraltar Mine down the road here and I don’t know how that’s destroying a culture, that’s way bigger than anything I’ve got in my ability.”