Canadian Mining Journal


COPPER-GOLD: Kamloops rejects new Ajax mine on doorstep

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.

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1 Comment » for COPPER-GOLD: Kamloops rejects new Ajax mine on doorstep
  1. Dear Editor of Canadian Mining Journal,

    Here’s a link to the Kamloops This Week July 18, 2017 article that reports the vote result of 5 to 1 Kamloops City Councillors against the Ajax Mine Project.

    Former Councillor Ken Christian, who resigned on June 30th to become a Kamloops mayoral candidate for the fall by-election, has confirmed to the media and to me (in conversation as recently as July 18th) that he would have voted against the mine as well. Mr. Christian is an environmental health consultant who well articulates his evidence-based reasons not to support the Ajax Project. Theoretically, his vote would have made the result a minimum of 6 to 3 Councillors against this open pit mining project just upwind and upstream of a valley population of ~90,000, even if former Council members Peter Milobar (new BC MLA) and Marg Spina (resignation due to medical reasons) had voted in favour of the project alongside Pat Wallace.

    With regards to the July 17th vote, Councillor Dieter Dudy expressed both opposition to the Ajax Project and the need, in his view, to ensure that the City’s decision letter to higher levels of government also outline a set of conditions for project approval, similar to Ken Christian’s stated stance, in order to best protect the City.

    It appears that some media reporting has given the appearance that the July 17th vote was only 4 to 2 against the Ajax Mine proposal. Instead, the vote was 4 to 2 in support of the combined motion to have a letter drafted for higher levels of government that would indicate rejection of the Ajax Mine proposal together with a list of concerns/reasons for the City’s decision rather than giving a list of conditions for project approval by the BC and Federal Ministers.

    Paraphrasing what I witnessed Councillor Tina Lange say at the July 17th meeting – Giving a list of conditions for project approval after having said “No” would be like a wife saying to her husband, “No, I don’t want to go to Vancouver this weekend unless we stay at this particular hotel and eat at this particular restaurant”.

    The 4 Councillors who supported the July 17th motion vote wanted to convey the message “No means No” instead.

    Deputy Mayor Arjun Singh had 5 clear written point headings that he read when he declared his opinion against the Ajax Mine Project. Also paraphrased from the notes I took, the points included:

    1. Respect of the SSN (Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation) formal review panel decision against the Ajax Project.

    2. Reviews by Environment Canada, region meteorologist Ralph Adams, SLR Consulting, and the Interior Health Authority expressing concern about potential health impacts from particulate matter air pollution if KGHM could not guarantee 90% mitigation of fugitive dust at all times.

    3. Whether the project could be monitored adequately over time.

    4. Potential loss of medical personnel from the community if such personnel decided to move away from Kamloops due to the mine, taking into consideration vocal opposition to the project by many physicians. Kamloops already has a doctor shortage.

    5. Potential further loss of community cohesion and diversity, given that the Ajax Mine Project has been a controversial issue over the last several years.

    Of course, it would be best to ask our Deputy Mayor directly for a copy his written “rant”, as he described it, to ensure that I did not paraphrase him in error.

    Jennifer Takahashi MD, FRCPC

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