By Russell Hallbauer, President and CEO – Taseko Mines Ltd., Florence Copper Inc.
On Friday, June 21st the Town Council made public a proposed settlement of its outstanding disputes with Florence Copper. The Town Council says it is willing to resolve the outstanding court cases. However, by attempting to dictate a one-sided settlement with a 45-day take-it-or-leave-it drop-dead date their action suggests otherwise.
Beginning back in 2012, the Town Council of Florence in partnership with land developers Southwest Value Partners and Pulte Homes, and utility owner George Johnson embarked on a deliberate campaign to damage the reputation of Florence Copper, to interfere in its business and to stop the development of its proposed in-situ copper recovery facility.
The multiple attacks by the Town Council have cost Florence Copper dearly — $4-5 million in legal fees and millions more in regulatory delays. They have damaged our reputation and caused us harm in financial markets.
We have been treated very unfairly by the Council, beyond the point of recklessness.
Despite losing every legal and regulatory challenge the current Council seems determined to continue down the same road deciding to appeal two recent rulings made by the state superior courts against the Town. These rulings are the result of seven years of unsuccessful lawsuits brought by the Town Council.
The cases have been costly, especially for the Town. To date, attorneys’ fees and costs awarded by the courts against the Town exceed $2 million. Further appeals will only increase these costs.
Florence Copper wants to be a positive asset to the Town but the elected leadership continues spending taxpayer money without any legitimate scientific evidence to support their position.
It is in no one’s interest to continue with a protracted legal battle and it should be brought to an end.
We simply seek to recover the costs we have incurred defending ourselves and we would like these aggressive and misguided attacks to stop and be able to look forward to a future free of any further litigation initiated by them.
We remain hopeful that what the Town actually intends is to enter into negotiations to resolve these disputes and address the remaining substantive claims in the case. If that is indeed the Town’s intent, then Florence Copper is prepared to meet with the appropriate Town officials and negotiate a mutually beneficial settlement.
In the meantime, we will continue with our work at the site, continue to invest, create jobs and business opportunity for residents and remain a constructive and positive force in Florence.
We have a good team of people in Florence – community-minded people who are interested in contributing to the future success of the community.
We appreciate the support we have received by Florence residents and look forward to many long years of doing business here.
Russell Hallbauer, President and CEO
Taseko Mines Ltd., Florence Copper Inc.