Dene Moore, The Canadian Press
The offices of Taseko Mines Limited is pictured in Vancouver, November 25, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER - The proponent of a once-rejected gold mine in the British Columbia Interior has filed an application for judicial review of a second critical environmental assessment that found the project would cause significant adverse environmental effects.
Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO) is asking the Federal Court to quash the federal panel findings and declare that panel members failed to observe procedural fairness at the hearings held earlier this year.
The panel "based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard to the material before it...," said the application filed in Vancouver on Monday.
Taseko said the panel based its conclusions on faulty information — failing to account for a design feature intended to prevent seepage of contaminant material from a tailings storage facility.
"Taseko had no choice but to file this application in order to comply with a 30 day time limit," said Taseko president Russell Hallbauer said in a news release.
"But we remain of the view that the federal government should allow the project to proceed to the next stage of detailed permit-level examination and if so the judicial review would not need to proceed."
It was the second attempt by the company to have the project approved.
The proposed mine has already been rejected once after an earlier assessment because the company proposed using the lake as the tailings pond.
Following a second public hearing process, the report last month by the federal Canadian Environment Assessment Agency said it did not believe Taseko's design for the project could avoid contaminating nearby Fish Lake. The survival of the lake was at the centre of the original rejection.
The company originally proposed draining the lake of significance to area First Nations, and using it as a tailings pond. In the revised proposal, the company said Fish Lake would be saved, and a tailings pond built elsewhere.
The assessment found the project would have "significant adverse environmental effects" on water quality, fish and fish habitat in the lake, on grizzly habitat and on First Nations traditional activities.
No one was immediately available to comment from the Tsilqhot'in First Nations, which have vehemently opposed the project.
The final decision on allowing the mine to proceed is in the hands of federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has said it is reviewing the information provided by Taseko concerning the information used by the panel.