A report critical of the environmental impact of the proposed New Prosperity copper and gold mine didn't sway politicians who are in favour of the development near Williams Lake.
Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Dick Harris said the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency report contained "derogatory statements" against the plan and failed to give proper weight to evidence presented by proponent Taseko.
"I'm absolutely disappointed with the panel's report and I have some serious questions about some of their assertions," Harris said.
The report identified a handful of concerns, ranging from the quality of water and habitat in Fish Lake to the impact the mine would have on aboriginal cultural values in the area.
Harris countered that the aquatic habitat in Fish Lake is already poor because there are too many fish in the shallow lake, not enough food and too much algae.
In the coming days Harris plans to examine the lengthy report in more detail and compare the evidence presented by all sides and when he finds conflicting accounts he will consult with independent experts.
Cariboo-Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett said her support for the mine hasn't wavered either, despite the report. She said it's important to remember that the federal report didn't account for the socio-economic benefits the mine could provide.
"You and I know it's impossible to build a mine without some adverse effects," she said. "With any mine, any project, it's how you mitigate those effects and whether the environmental impacts are acceptable when those key factors are mitigated."
The provincial government agreed to grant Taseko a certificate to proceed with its original proposal in 2010, but the federal government balked at the plan. The B.C. government would have to amend its certificate to accommodate the current plan, but Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said the province will wait for the federal government to make its decision sometime in the next four months.
"We went first last time and our process thought the company could show it could mitigate the environmental impact and the feds disagreed," Bennett said. "We thought with an amended project, the company should get a response from the federal government this time before the province."
While Bennett said it was too early to say how the provincial cabinet might rule on the mine, he was critical of the some of the findings by the federal panel. He said the "academic process" didn't give Taseko a chance to prove it could mitigate the risks presented.
He believes the risk to water quality in Fish Lake could be mitigated, but said it will be difficult to find a way around the cultural concerns the report raises. He's eager to see how the federal government will balance the cultural issues with the economic benefit of the mine.
"If there are cultural concerns that are significant enough to stop the mine, then that is of course what the federal government will do," he said.
B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix said he wasn't surprised by the report's findings because he doesn't think the facts changed enough from the first proposal. He also criticized the provincial government's handling of the file and said they should have ensured there was proper consultation between Taseko and local aboriginal groups.
"The provincial government in this case continued to pursue an approach of ignoring environmental issues and ignoring First Nations," Dix said. "They simply said that we can overturn these realities by politics and that approach have divided people and now has led to a second damning report."
With the next decision resting with the provincial government, Harris and Bennett said they will wait patiently for cabinet's ruling and don't plan on conducting any further lobbying for the cause.
"The federal cabinet I think is well aware of the position the province takes, that this is an important project for the province, particularly to the people of the Cariboo who have a lot of forestry jobs over the last 10 to 15 years due to the pine beetle epidemic," Bennett said.