By the end of the month, the New Prosperity gold-copper mine proposal will either be going to a full public hearing or the company involved, Taseko Mines Ltd., will be fetching more information.
The door closed this past weekend on the latest round of public input, a short one compared to a full public hearing process.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has a panel looking into the viability of the New Prosperity project. This is standard procedure for major industrial projects. The project is located about 120 to 130 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake in the heart of the territory of the six Tsilhqotin nations. The Tsilhqotin Nation opposes the mine, based on their assertion it would harm the environment too much and ruin their own land-use plans.
Taseko Mines submitted a lengthy document in late 2012, explaining how they would build the mine after their first proposal was rejected by the federal panel in 2010, but the panel asked Taseko to provide additional information not contained in the proposal document. That new information was provided on March 1 in a 50-page document, triggering a two-week public input period focused on the new materials.
There were 59 submissions during that two-week period, which ended Friday. Many were letters from individuals, some were comments from government departments and some were issued by First Nations.
All of it will now be reviewed and analyzed by the members of the review panel.
"Now the panel must determine if all the information is sufficient to proceed to public hearing. If there are gaps, it will ask the proponent to provide more information," said Lucille Jamault, the federal review panel's spokeswoman for the New Prosperity file.
She said the panel has a deadline of March 31 to announce its findings.
"If the panel determines the [total collection of documentation] is insufficient to proceed to public hearing, it will ask the proponent to provide further information in the necessary areas," Jamault said. "If the panel determines it has sufficient information to proceed to public hearing, a public notice will be issued 30 days before the commencement of the hearing."
All documentation is available for public reading at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's website.