Fish Lake (Teztan Biny in the Tsilhqot’in language) is a mountain lake, located on the Chilcotin Plateau, 125 kilometers west of Williams Lake British Columbia, Canada. Fish Lake and the Chilcotin Plateau are within Tsilhqot’in First Nation territory.
Fish Lake, as you would expect from its name, is amazing fishing for rainbow trout and has been called by the BC Provincial Government one of the top ten recreational fishing lakes in the province.
A mining company, Taseko Mines Ltd, had proposed to partially drain Fish Lake and use it and the surrounding watershed to create ponds to hold their waste rock for their massive proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine.
Fish Lake runs into Fish Creek, the Taseko River, Chilko River, the Chilcotin River and finally into the Fraser River. This river network is extremely important to the survival of wild Pacific salmon.
Traditionally, mining companies built their own tailings ponds but an amendment to Canada’s Fisheries Act in 2002 allowed natural lakes and creeks to be reclassified as “tailings impoundment areas.” Since then the federal government has reclassified up to twenty additional lakes as dumps. The proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake would require the same reclassification from the government of Canada to move forward.
The B.C. government approved this mine through its BC Environmental Assessment process on January 18th, 2010. The Tsilhqot'in National Government (TNG) strongly opposed the mine and denounced the decision of BC’s government.
Then in November 2010 based on recomendations from the federal environmental assessment panel, Canada's Environment Minister said "No" to Taseko's proposed Proposperity Mine that would have destroyed Fish Lake.
The Prosperity Mine proposal was turned down because of its massive environmental impacts and the fact that it was strongly opposed by the Tsilhqot'in Nation communities that are located near the proposed mine site. The damage to the lake and surrounding lands, forests and waters was just too devastating to allow the mine to go ahead.
Soon after that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency was asked by Taseko Mines Ltd to investigate a new mining proposal on the same site called the "New Prosperity Mine".
First Nations and environmentalists argued that to allow the mining company to come back so soon after being so strongly rejected would make a mockery of the environmental review process.
Nevertheless, in November 2011 we were shocked and saddened to learn that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency had agreed to Taseko Mines Ltd.'s demand for a new environmental review of its proposed "New Prosperity" gold and copper mine.
The decision puts Fish Lake and the surrounding lands and waters once again at risk from being poisoned by mine waste from the proposed open pit mine.
The New Prosperity Mine proposal has been called even more environmentally risky than the old Properity Mine proposal that was rejected in 2010. It would turn an area upstream of Fish Lake, covering Little Fish Lake and surrounding land, into a tailings area.
Then in March 2012 Taseko Mines filed a Notice of Civil Claim against the Wilderness Committee for what the mining company says is a series of false and defamatory statements concerning Taseko and its proposed gold-copper mine at Little Fish Lake and Fish Lake in the heart of Tsilhqot'in Nation territory. The Wilderness Committee has responded to Taseko's claim.
Despite the chilling effect of a potentially time consuming and costly legal action, the Wilderness Committee will continue to vigorously speak out about the severe risks of Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity Mine.
Google Map of Fish Lake & Proposed "New" Prosperity Mine
Fish Creek watershed is shown in bright green. The proposed mine (peach colour), tailings pond (red colour), powerline (purple colour) and other infrastructure (yellow colour) are shown here. For comprehensive full map with legend, please click on "View Fish Lake & Proposed "New" Prosperity Mine in a larger map" just below the map.
View Fish Lake & Proposed "New" Prosperity Mine in a larger map