The Project under consideration would be situated in the Cariboo-Chilcotin District where Williams Lake is a regional service centre. Many people in the district consider as an opportunity to enforce the economy and to decrease the employment rates. The mine would cover 35 square km territory in Teztan Yeqox watershed that includes Taseko River, Fish Lake, and Little Fish Lake together with surrounding area Nabas.
The First Nation together with Environmental Assessment Office in British Columbia expressed their strong opposition to the Mine Project admitting that it has considerable adverse effect on fish and grizzly bears habitat.
In particular that Panel states that the public hearing being the main tool for gathering date from the indigenous people about current use of lands and impacts on cultural heritage. The results of the Panel revealed that the Project would turn out to be significantly adverse environmental effects on fish, navigation, resources for traditional purposes, and on cultural heritage of First Nations.
The presented project was submitted to the Minister of Environment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the auspices of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for the Panel Review (Environmental Assessment Office, 2009).
The chief issues for Fisheries and Oceans Canada consisted in the Project proposition to use lakes as storage areas for waste rock and tailings within the Teztan Yedox. The federal review panel discussed this project for 30 days at public and committee meetings, including such questions as land use, cultural, economic, and social problems with regard to this Project.
It should also be noted that British Agreement on Environmental Cooperation presented in 2004 also took responsibility for checking and regulating the Project. Environmental Assessment also proved to be controversial and provides a lot of ambiguity over the Mine Project. Additionally, the quality of assessment was overall ineffective.
Analyzing the case, it is necessary to point out to what extent Taseko Mining Project follows all requirements of Environmental Assessment process and what adversities and effects it would have in regional context. More importantly, the focus should also be made on the analysis of First Nations opposition to the Project and what measures were taken to consider the requirements of the aboriginal population.
Proponent description/Project description
Taseko Mines Ltd. introduced the Prosperity Gold-Cooper Mine Project in British Columbia. The project would include building, operation, abandonment and decommissioning of a large mine destined for a 20 years operating life. In order proceed with the Project, it is necessary to gain the permission from the authorities and to obtain a license on conducting the planned operations.
The Mandate of the Panel Review. The Panel Review Mandate is to provide an evaluation of the environmental effects of the proposed project, including any alterations that the Project can introduce in the environment with regard to socio-economic conditions and health issues, physical and cultural heritage, land and resource usage for traditional goals of the aboriginal population.
The Panel shall also aims to provide conclusions and recommendation on the importance of the environmental impact of the Project on the Territory (Environmental Assessment Office, 2009, p. 265). During the hearing, the Panel rejected the project because it did not manage to meet the needs of First Nations and because it has adverse effects for environment.
It should be stressed that the project will have a considerable impact on aquatic environment. In particular, it would include the re-routing of surface flows and the impoundment of the aquatic habitats, notably Fish Lake and Little Fish Lake in order to construct a Tailing Storage Faculty. Hence, the Prosperity Lake would be located to south of the TSF and to the east of Wasp Lake.
The lake would be built by constructing a water retention dam. The eastern side of the Upper Fish Creek will be surrounded by a headwater channel system that would be composed of north and south flowing channels (Levy, 2009, p. 5).
These water channels would be controlled and diverted into the Prosperity Lake through erected spawning channel. In its turn, the Prosperity Lake would deliver water to the TSF and to the open pit that would delivers water to Lower Fish Creek (Levy, 2009, p. 5).
Evaluating the introduced alterations, the project would provide permanent changes to the Fish Creek baseline hydrology. Such alterations involve the total removal of Little Fish Lake and Fish Lake. As a result, surface water stream flow will be decreased by 65 % within the period of operating in the Fish Creek watershed which will lead to diminishing of water area.
In general, the main effects on hydrology involve water diversion channel by 1, 25 Mm3 annually in the direction to Lower Fish Creek and resumption of water flows in the post-closure of Lower Fish Creek (Levy, 2009, p. 8).
The assessment have revealed that the proposed mitigations would turn out to be negative for the territory under consideration because it would have an irreversible impact on surface water hydrology until the post-closure stage when the flows are re-routed in Lower Fish Creek. The flow re-routing would take a time span of about 27 years period that is necessary for filling up the pit.
The Panel Review also concluded that the Project would have adverse effects for the population of grizzly bears. This is explained by the fact that this species is under the threat of extinction due to excessive ranching activities and rapid development of logging due to the rise of the operation industry. The point is that logging continues to influence the habitat due to the rise of human activities (Environmental Assessment Office, 2009).
The Prospect Employment Perspective for the Population of the Tsilhqot’in
Territory. The economic analysis has revealed that the Project provision involve a simplified version of the population assessment that can led to unequal allocation of labor force. As a result, there is a probability that the unemployment rate will increase.
In addition, there are rough calculations of mineral resources preserved on this territory and there are no guarantees for the population to be insured by work places on a long-termed basis (Kuyek, 2009, p. 4). According to socio-economic impact assessment, the mineral resources of gold and copper are 0.41% and 0.21% correspondently.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that the gold is distributed throughout the mine and it is impossible to retrieve it until the copper is mined. Besides there are some other valuable mineral resources that are not included into the Project provisions, but will be still mined and damaged.
According to the consideration of the Review Panel did reach a consensus concerning the economic benefits of the presented Project due to the fact that its Terms of Reference restricted it to regarding only social-economic impacts of the alterations the Project would have on the environment.
Nevertheless, the panel admitted that the Project would create 275 jobs annually in operation and constructions stages and nearly 600 indirect places only during the 20 years operation period.
Consequently, the construction has ambiguous perspectives for the employees for a period of more than 20 years, which creates more concerns with the Project and its environmental impact assessment (Environmental Assessment Office, 2009).
Discussion First Nations’ participation to the EA process
While evaluation the effects of the project on cultural, social, and economical issues related to this territories, numerous ambiguous questions have appeared. In particular, there are serious concerns with Assessment of Socio-Economic Impact. First of all, it is difficult to precisely identify the territory on which the project will be located.
In addition, the information about the Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment is quite confusing. The failure to consider some significant provision in accordance to pertinent legislation can have a negative impact on health of the indigenous population of the Tsilhqot’in Territory. More importantly, the cost-benefit analysis revealed that the Project failed to examine the people’s needs, including justice and equity in activities.
The Socio-Economic Analysis has also discovered that the Project would have considerable problems in cultural and social terms. In particular, the project does not guarantee that long-term period of dislocation and disruption will not worsen the cultural and social situation because the project fails to analysis the social infrastructures and communities located on this territory (Kuyek, 2009, p. 5).
The projects have also failed to take into consideration the destruction of social system caused by the disruption of natural ecosystem.
The inconsistency of project procedures and plans also consist in a failure to understand the impact on the Aboriginal people. There will definitely be serious effects of the Tsilhqot’in people who were initially against mine development, believing that its construction will damage their economy, cultural heritage, and their lifestyles (Kuyek, 2009, p. 7).
Additionally, First Nations’ concerns with the current land use were not in vain because the Project provided considerable and irreversible shift to the landscape and to the navigation. They were deprived of the places for hunting, fishing, and agricultural activities and, therefore, they had to introduce considerable changes to their lifestyles.
The First Nations also expressed their resentment towards the Project because Taseko’s plan to destroy the chief rivers, notably Fish Lake and Little Fish Lake was not acceptable. In this respect, it is quite difficult for Taseko to gain the trust of aboriginal people because the knowledge about these peoples was adolescent and irrelevant.
Challenge for Sustainable Development
Regarding all issues, regulations and proposals, it should be admitted that the Project has faced a great number of challenges and problems (Sallevane, n.d). In particular, the project has turned out to be adverse to the environmental, cultural, and social issues because its constructions and water flows re-routing has considerably influenced the ecology and hydrology of the examined territory.
Secondly, due to the lack of economic and social date, the Project failed to conform to the First Nation requirements as the indigenous population stands against any cultural, social, and environmental changes. Third, the Project failed the community’s needs for employment and development (Environmental Assessment Office, 2009, p. 26).
What Can We Learn from This Case Study?
A thorough analysis of this particular Case has revealed that any Projects providing changes to the environment should consider a bulk of issues because considerable shifts in the natural ecosystem can lead to the destruction of firmly established cultural, social, and economic norms within a community.
The Panel discussions and decisions have made us learn a lot of information and legal issues that protect the environment from adverse effects on the part of the industrial field. Moreover, the Assessment has provided a lot of facts about Project’s gaps to present their emergence in future.
Environmental Assessment Office. 2009. Prosperity Gold-Copper Project Assessment Report. British Columbian.
Kuyek, Joan. 2009. Rewiew of the Proposed Prosperity Mine Socio-Economic Assessment. Mining Watch Canada.
Levy, David. 2009. A. Review of the Prosperity Mine Aquatic Impact Assessment. Levy Research Services, Ltd.: Web.
Sallevane, John. n.d. Giving Tradition Ecological Knowledge Its Rightful Place in Environmental Impact Assessment. Web.
Western Economic Diversification Canada 2009. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Web.