NEWS/ AJAX — KGHM Ajax has received its final marching orders on what it must cover in its application for an environmental assessment permit to build a giant open-pit gold and copper mine south of Kamloops.
The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office issued updated requirements Thursday for the application, some four years after the first draft. Known as AIR/EIS (Application Information Requirements/ Environmental Impact Statement) guidelines, the document sets out in 249 pages the information that must be included in the Ajax application.
The company last year changed its original plans for a dry-stack tailings facility to a traditional wet tailings pond east of Lac Le Jeune Road at Goose Lake. That resulted in a second public comment period last November and December.
Then, early this year, KGHM Ajax said it would take a new look at the original dry-stack tailings plan in view of the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster, but the new guidelines assume the Ajax mine would use a wet tailings pond.
Next step is for KGHM Ajax to complete its application, which is expected to be submitted by the end of September. Then, the Environmental Assessment Office will start a 180-day review.
The guidelines cover a wide range of issues such as air quality, the effect on grasslands. operational safety, water quality, wildlife, and noise and vibration.
The Skeetchestn and Tk’emlups Indian Bands recently declared sovereignty over the Ajax lands, and the application guidelines say the mining company must identify possible adverse effects on Aboriginal interests.
That specifically includes impacts on the “spiritual significance” of the Jacko Lake area, known as Pipsell. The guidelines say KGHM Ajax must initiate “direct engagement” with Aboriginal groups, and propose how any impact on their interests can be mitigated.
The Whispering Pines/ Clinton Indian Band has been added to the list of Bands that must be consulted.
Among the environmental impacts that have to be answered are possible failure of the tailings storage facility, leakage, and failure of the Kinder Morgan pipeline that skirts the pit.
“The Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) will be located approximately 1 km south west of the open pit and east of Lac Le Jeune Road. The TSF (Tailings Storage Facility) shall be a conventional tailings storage facility including seepage collection ponds at the four embankments. Collection ditches along the embankments will direct surface run-off along the downstream face of the embankments to the seepage collection ponds for pumping back into the TSF. The tailings embankments will use approximately 230 Mt of waste rock material for construction. The maximum elevation of the tailings would be about 1,065 masl along the west side.”
Topics that must be considered in the application include:
• prevention or reduction of environmental effects
• technological innovations
• protection of Aboriginal interests
• protection of public health and safety
The full document is available here.