BRITISH COLUMBIA – Kamloops city council voted four-two to oppose the proposed Ajax copper-gold mine 3 km south of the town. Instead, the councillors are drafting a letter to all three political parties in the province to suspend environmental assessment and address their concerns.
Site of the proposed Ajax copper-gold that has come under fire from Kamloops city councillors. (Credit: Abacus Mining and Exploration)
The Ajax mine is a partnership of Abacus Mining & Exploration of Vancouver (20%) and Polish miner KGHM (80% and operator). The property in question was the site of five former producing open pit mines. The feasibility study would see the production of 109 million lb. of copper and 99,000 oz. of gold annually in concentrates over an 23-year mine life. Total development costs are estimated at over $1.3 billion.
The Kamloops councillors cite four major concerns:
- Failure of the current process to respect First Nations’ rights;
- Failure to give municipalities any control over mining projects;
- Failure to ban new tailings ponds and dams; and
- Failure to separate environmental monitoring and enforcement activities from the provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines.
The leaders of the new provincial government are being asked to review and reform the “obsolete, unfair environmental assessment” process.
The councillors’ fears appear to be centred on the proposed tailings pond, which they say will be five times the size of the one that failed at the Mount Polley mine, and that will put the city’s 100,000 residents in danger from possible failure of the new dam.
KGHM has already made several design changes based on public input into the Ajax project. Read about them by clicking here.