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Court battle begins for Taseko Mines over B.C.’s Fish Lake project

A view of Fish Lake, which is at the centre of a continuing dispute between B.C. first nations and Taseko Mines Ltd. The lake is 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake in the traditional territories of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation.
Tamsyn Burgmann, Globe and Mail, 21/01/15

Criticism of a proposed mine by an environmental group and allegations of defamation by the project’s owner have landed both parties in B.C. Supreme Court.

Taseko Mines Ltd. launched the lawsuit after the Wilderness Committee claimed during a 2012 public comment period that the New Prosperity mine could destroy Fish Lake.

The proposed gold and copper mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, was undergoing a federal environmental assessment when the statements were made.

Taseko lawyer Roger McConachie told court on Monday the company’s civil complaint involves five articles published by the non-profit organization, which were e-mailed to supporters and posted online starting in January, 2012.

“You will hear submissions related to corporate entitlement to have its reputation protected by a defamation lawsuit,” said Mr. McConachie, noting he expects to spend weeks presenting evidence.

The material involves libellous descriptions of the proposed project, a letter-writing tool that encouraged republication of the organization’s claims and statements the company was pursuing a lawsuit with the purpose of silencing public debate, Mr. McConachie argued. Some of the statements appeared on Facebook....more