MAC: Mines and Communities

Canada: First Nation environmental review panel nixes proposed Ajax mine

Published by MAC on 2017-03-05
Source: Mining.com, CBC News (2017-03-07)

The Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation has rejected the open-pit copper and gold project

The Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation has rejected a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine south-west of Kamloops, B.C., after its months-long review of the project.

The decision could be an important upset for KGHM International, a subsidiary of Polish company KGHM Polska Miedźthat, which has been trying to push the controversial $1.3-billion project forward since 2006.

The open-pit mine about 400 kilometres from Vancouver has run into opposition mostly due to its close proximity to Kamloops, a medium-sized Interior B.C. city. A survey done in 2013 showed nearly 75 per cent of respondents opposed the mine.

Environmental review panel nixes proposed Ajax mine

First Nations oppose $1.3 billion copper-gold project in south-central B.C.

Andrew Topf

http://www.mining.com/environmental-review-panel-nixes-proposed-ajax-mine/

5 March 2016

A prospective copper-gold mine in south-central  British Columbia has been handed a setback by local First Nations who oppose the project.

An environmental review panel led by the Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwépemc and the Tk’emlups had been deliberating the pros and cons of the controversial $1.3-billion mine, located on the outskirts of Kamloops, for the past few months. On Saturday, in a 200-person ceremony announcing their rejection, one of the indigenous groups said a lake and the land around it where the mine is to be located, holds spiritual significance.

"The current environmental approval process in British Columbia and Canada uses science but doesn't take into consideration our traditions and our culture," said Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwépemc councillor Janet Jules, quoted by CBC News. "That's what we emphasized with our consultations."

However the decision isn't the end of the Ajax mine; final word goes to the federal and provincial environmental assessment offices. On January 18 the mine developer, KGHM Ajax Mining, submitted an application to them for an environmental certificate.

The open-pit mine about 400 kilometres from Vancouver has been under consideration since 2006, but has run into opposition mostly due to its close proximity to Kamloops, a medium-sized Interior B.C. city. A survey done in 2013 showed nearly 75 per cent of respondents opposed the mine. Recently Mining Watch calculated the risk to the proponents, KGHM International (TSX:QUX) and Abacus Mining & Exploration (TSXV:AME), of pushing ahead with the project, saying it could cost them over $100 million in litigation or compensation costs.

But KGHM says on its website that it has taken local concerns into account by moving the facilities farther from the city, while also increasing the processor throughput by 5,000 tonnes per day (60,000 tpd to 65,000 tpd) in an updated feasibility study released on January 13.

The Ajax mine has proven and probable mineral reserves calculated at 2.7 billion pounds of copper, 2.6 million ounces of gold and 5.3 million ounces of silver. The 18-year mine would produce an annual 58,000 tonnes of copper and 125,000 ounces of gold.

CBC quotes KGHM saying the mine would generate 1,800 jobs during construction and 500 when it's in operation.


First Nation-led environmental review panel rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops, B.C.

Maryse Zeidler

CBC News - http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/first-nation-led-environmental-review-panel-rejects-ajax-mine-in-kamloops-b-c-1.4010569

March 4, 2017

The Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation has rejected a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine south-west of Kamloops, B.C., after its months-long review of the project.

The decision could be an important upset for KGHM International, a subsidiary of Polish company KGHM Polska Miedźthat, which has been trying to push the controversial $1.3-billion project forward since 2006. 

According to the company's website, the Ajax Project is the first in B.C.'s history that was required to prepare a First Nations consultation plan as part of its environmental assessment process. 

The panel's decision was announced Saturday afternoon at a ceremony at the Moccasin Square Gardens in Kamloops, with about 200 people in attendance. 

The First Nation said it prefers to protect the long-term health of its traditional territory instead of take advantage of short-term economic benefits. 

"The current environmental approval process in British Columbia and Canada uses science but doesn't take into consideration our traditions and our culture," said band councillor Janet Jules.

"That's what we emphasized with our consultations."

Jules said the land around Jacko Lake, where the mine would be located, holds great spiritual and cultural value for the First Nation. It considers Pipsell, its name for the lake, to be a sacred site.

Company touts employment benefits

The Ajax mine has been under discussion since 2006. According to KGHM, the mine would operate for about 20 years and would lead to 1,800 jobs during the construction phase, and 500 full-time jobs while it's in operation.

But groups like Mining Watch Canada question the company's stated economic benefits of the mine

Many nearby residents also voiced concerns about the mine's proximity to a dozen schools, a hospital and four seniors' homes. 

KGHM initiated its environmental evaluation process in January 2016. 

A few months after, in May, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office put a temporary hold on the process, partly because it lacked consultation from the Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation. 

The project is highly controversial in Kamloops and is likely to become one of the issues at the forefront of the upcoming provincial election in May.

Kamloops City Council has yet to take an official position on the mine — including Mayor Peter Milobar, who is running as the Liberal candidate for the region. 

Councillor Donovan Cavers, running as the region's Green Party nominee, has voiced his opposition to the project. 

The environmental assessment process is still ongoing. 

According to the company, a final decision on the mine will be made by both federal and provincial environment ministers as well as B.C.'s minister of energy and mines. 

The company's offices were closed for the weekend and no one responded to requests for comment.

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