TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Canada’s Taseko Mines slapped the prefix “New” to its controversial Prosperity mine in British Columbia, added $300-million to its development cost to make it more environmentally acceptable, and is now playing the economics card in trying to get the project approved.
The TSX-listed miner said on Tuesday the $1.5-billion plan would lift employment by 71 000, bolster federal government coffers to the tune of $4.3-billion, and increase British Columbia’s revenue by an even more impressive $5.5-billion over two decades of operation.
Then federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced in November last year that he would not approve the Prosperity project because of environmental concerns, even though British Columbia had already given it the green light.
Taseko then rejigged its design for Prosperity, changing its plan to drain the Fish Lake, which had been a major problem for native communities nearby. The alterations added $300-million to the project’s development costs, it said.
The company then in August said the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency had formally accepted the new project description for what is now called New Prosperity.
It expects the agency will complete the review by November 2012, and submit a final report to Ottawa for a decision.
In a statement on Tuesday, Taseko said the Milton, Ontario-based economic research firm Centre for Spatial Economics had drawn up a report on New Prosperity outlining the financial and employment benefits that could flow if it gets the government green light.
Aside from the jobs the mine would create, and the government taxes, the research firm said it would generate revenues of more than $11-billion, and increase real gross domestic product by a similar amount.
It would also add 5 400 to British Columbia’s population.
“New Prosperity offers significant benefit for people, including First Nations – new jobs, new opportunities for business and new revenues for governments, all of which will boost the economy and help fund essential public service,” Taseko CEO Russell Hallbauer said.
In an apparent nudge to the federal government, he added that the company had addressed Ottawa’s previous concerns in its new design.
Hallbauer also asked government not to drag its feet in reaching a decision, saying Taseko “anticipates an appropriately efficient and timely assessment of the new design elements”.
The Centre for Spatial Economics study assumed a 2013 start for construction of New Prosperity, which Taseko has dubbed the biggest undeveloped gold-copper deposit in Canada and the seventh largest in the world.
The project has reserves of 7.7-million ounces of gold and 3.6-billion pounds of copper.