A tale of two BC mining fiascos – by Rafe Mair (Rossland Telegraph – November 01, 2011)

http://rosslandtelegraph.com/

Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.’s pre-eminent journalists.

There are two mining stories out of last week in Lotusland. For openers, let’s deal with “Prosperity” lake which, before the corporate flacks got involved, was called Fish Lake.

The short story is that this is a mine prospect held by Taseko Mines. While the Provincial government approved it, it was turned down by the feds who then gave the company time to put in a new proposal, which they did. With the speed of light the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency received the new application last February and hasn’t yet decided anything.

This delay brought a fire and brimstone editorial from the Fraser Institute’s house paper, the Vancouver Sun, which threw unsourced “facts” at us, including a promise of 71,000 jobs with 5,400 new residents for the nearby town of Williams Lake.

We’re not told where those figures come from but clearly they’re from the large sack of extravagant statements the Fraser Institute keeps on hand for whenever their definition of capitalism is called to account.
 
Since the Sun doesn’t state otherwise, we must assume that the 71,000 jobs are for construction of the mine, which is preposterous. Whatever jobs it does take will, based upon long experience, come from outside the province. And are these 5,400 new arrivals necessary to run a mine?
 
Mr. Mihlar, the Fraser Institute’s editor of The Sun, the think tank’s poodle, should visit an operation of a modern, computerized mine before throwing numbers around.
 
A neat line in the editorial refers to outside agitators, I can only hope that I and fellow environmentalists are amongst them. The thought that environmentalists are outside agitators brings a sense of deep pride; how rewarding it is to be compared to the “freedom fighters” in the American South in the Sixties.
 
It’s so much like the Fraser Institute’ poodle, the Sun, to pretend they are not “outside agitators”.
 
The Sun’s call for putting the Taseko Prosperity Mine on the fast track is code for “approve at once” and ignores the fact that First Nations people and we outside agitators have yet to be heard from on the new proposition.
 
If I were able to cross-examine the company and their flacks my question would be: Why didn’t you submit your amended proposal in the first place? (The proposal existed, in fact, but the company insisted it wasn’t “economically viable”, before suddenly changing its tune the day after the first proposal was rejected). Can we assume that if you’re turned down for proposal #2, you have “proposition 3” in your ass pocket?
 
It’s interesting that Mr. Milhar doesn’t deal with the environmental concerns that remain, with attention be paid to the threats of damage to other waters especially to migrating salmon streams.

Even though the company’s latest proposal seeks to avoid destroying Fish Lake, it still threatens Fish Creek, Taseko Lake and the Taseko River – important salmon habitat that eventually connects with the Fraser River.
 
It’s also interesting that the Fraser Institute/Sun combination believes that where development and the environment clash development must carry the day.
 
This infomercial of Mr. Milhar should help us start the great debate, namely, what do British Columbians want to be – one of the blessed lands where commercial intrusion is secondary to environmental preservation or a place where when a conflict occurs, industry holds all the trumps?
 
For the rest of this column, please go to the Rossland Telegraph website:
http://rosslandtelegraph.com/news/tale-two-bc-mining-fiascos-14736

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