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Prosperity mine will be a net loss to BC: study

A 2009 report contends that the proposed Prosperity Mine will actually impose a net loss on all British Columbians--and the rest of Canada as well.

The report, commissioned by the Friends of the Nemaiah Valley, was written by Dr. Marvin Shaffer, a professor and resource economist at Simon Fraser University. It first appeared in February 2009.

Shaffer's bottom line: "Contrary to statements in the EIS (the company's Environmental Impact Statement) suggesting this project would generate billions of dollars of net benefits, the project would appear, based on the available information, to generate significant net costs for British Columbians and Canadians as a whole."

Shaffer did a detailed analysis of the Taseko Mines Ltd EIS and found a number of problems. A net subsidy for power to the mine would cost B.C. Hydro and its customers at least $35 million a year.

Offsetting greenhouse gas emissions would add another $3 million to the cost. Harm to the environment and to the First Nations that rely on Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) would add still more costs.

The result, Shaffer concluded, would be a net cost to British Columbians of $20 million a year

Woodward & Company, a Victoria legal firm representing the Tsilh'qotin National Government and Xeni Get'in First Nation, issued a news release about the report on July 14. A spokesperson for the firm said that recent media coverage had emphasized the supposed benefits of the mine, so it wished to remind the public of the costs.

The release quoted the response of Tl'etinqox-t'in Chief Joe Alphonse:

"This report shows British Columbians are being asked to endorse the destruction of Fish Lake and our First Nations culture, way of life and rights - and to pay Taseko millions to do it.

"This study demonstrates the claims of massive revenues and jobs for all are a myth, designed to make people believe the permanent damage that will be wreaked is justified."

Shaffer's report is available on the Woodward and Company website along with other related documents. A video on "The Tsilhqot'in Fight for Teztan Biny" is also available on the website.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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