WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. _ British Columbia Mines Minister Bill Bennett met with a trio of federal ministers in Ottawa on Thursday to urge them to approve a controversial gold and copper mine that has already been rejected once by the Conservative government.
Two federal environmental reviews have now found that the mine proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd.
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) would infringe on aboriginal rights to hunt and trap _ an impact that cannot be mitigated, William said in a statement.
The site 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C., is the tenth largest undeveloped gold-copper deposit in the world and Bennett said the mine will create 750 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs in an area that has been devastated by the pine beetle epidemic.
He met with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Government Services Minister Diane Finley.
Bennett didn't mention Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, in whose hands the decision rests.
``I made sure that the federal ministers understand how important this project is to the Cariboo region that's really suffering right now because of the pine beetle epidemic, and I made sure that they understand that we have the technology in British Columbia, in our mining industry, to actually build this mine in a way that is environmentally safe,'' Bennett said after the meetings on Parliament Hill.
He rejected assertions that it was inappropriate for him to make the appeal to the federal government.
``I'm not lobbying on behalf of a company,'' Bennett said. ``I'm here on behalf of the people of British Columbia. We need the jobs.''
But the First Nations fighting the proposal said it's a disgrace that Bennett is pressuring Ottawa to approve the New Prosperity mine, against the advice of an environmental review panel.
And the Tsilhqot'in National Government said if the federal government does so, it could be on the hook for compensation because the bands involved will take the project to court.
Taseko shares rose 0.74% to $2.05 Monday, leaving a market cap of $396.1 million, based on 192.7 million. The 52-week range is $3.48 and $1.88.