Taseko Mines Ltd. is seeking an injunction after the Tsilhqot’in Nation blocked the company’s contractors from hauling equipment to do exploratory drilling for its proposed New Prosperity Mine project 185 km southwest of Williams Lake.
On Tuesday, July 2, a flatbed truck with equipment was turned away at around 6 a.m. from travelling on the Farwell Canyon Road off Highway 20.
Members of the Tsilqot’in Nation had set up a peaceful protest camp at the site the evening before.
Finn Conradsen, mine project manager for Taseko met the protesters later that morning and verified with Chief Joe Alphonse, Tshilqot’in National Government tribal chair, that Taseko would not be permitted to bring equipment through.
The protest camp was taken down by Tuesday evening.
Confirming the company is seeking an injunction, vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison told the Tribune a sign has been posted at the corner of Highway 20 and the Farwell Canyon Road.
It notifies the public that Taseko will apply for an injunction in order to permit the company’s employees, contractors and agents to access the areas covered by the notice of work permit issued by the provincial government.
Company lawyers are expected to appear in court on Friday, July 5 to set a hearing date for the injunction application.
“When access to a public road has been illegally blocked, one of the potential solutions is to seek an injunction from the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” Battison said. “Today we have instructedour legal counsel to apply for an injunction to permit us to access our property so the work can be done.”
Speaking from his home at Tl’etinqox First Nation Friday, Chief Alphonse said the Tsilhqot’in will challenge the injunction in court.
“It’s not the first time we’re going to court against Taseko,” he added. “It’s part of the process.”
Alphonse said it will be “virtually” impossible for the mine to ever go through so the exploratory drilling should not happen.
“The reality is if you go through the whole government process, that it’s near impossible for this mine to come to fruition so why are we doing the project?” he said.
“People think the mine has been approved — it has not. There are so many obstacles they would have to go through, even if the Tsilhqot’in were to support them, which we don’t. In the meantime they plan on wreaking havoc in an area that is sensitive to the Tsilhqot’in.”
Five years ago the Tsilhqot’in won an historical case in the Supreme Court of Canada that proved they had rights and title.
“What does having Aboriginal rights and title mean if you cannot have any level of jurisdiction over your territory?” Alphonse said.
“We have to protect our interests. A company like Taseko has to realize this mine will never be. They talk about the amount of financial resources they have spent on this, well sooner or later they are going to have cut their losses. We are not changing our position after 25 years.”