The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is heading to court to fight a permit issued to Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML) to conduct drilling in its territory.
The move comes after the BC Supreme Court rejected the Federal Government’s attempt to get an injunction to stop the drilling program.
The permit in question authorizes 76 km of new or modified trails, 122 drill holes and 367 test pits in an area of “profound cultural and spiritual importance” to the Tŝilhqot’in. The Nation will also seek an injunction to halt the program.
The timing of the permit also rankled the Tŝilhqot’in. The outgoing BC Liberal Government granted Tasko the permit on its last day in power and during unprecedented wildfires raging in Tŝilhqot’in territory.
“This approval for drilling permits was a final act under the former BC Liberal Government, issued during the 2017 wildfires while Tsilhqot’in citizens and Leadership were displaced and struggling to defend their homes and territory. It is indefensible to approve a massive drilling program for a project that was rejected four years ago and cannot be built. It’s disheartening to see TML continuing to make a mockery of the environmental review process, along with the justice system,” said Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman of the Tsilhqot’in National Government in a news release. “In my opinion, companies like TML and governments like the former BC Liberals are the reason why the BC environmental review process needs to change. Cases like the Tŝilhqot’in Decision have led to policy changes throughout Canada – it’s time for business and government in BC to follow suit.”
The Federal Government has twice rejected Taseko’s proposed mine related to the drilling program.
The case is being heard this week in BC Supreme Court in Victoria.