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AJAX – B.C. ministers decide not to issue permit for open-pit mine proposal

Full press release issued today (Dec. 14, 2017) by B.C. ministers on Ajax application:

Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall have decided not to issue an environmental assessment certificate to KGHM Ajax Mining Inc. for the Ajax project.

The company proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, located approximately 10 kilometres southwest of Kamloops and on the asserted traditional territories of the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN), Ashcroft Indian Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band and Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band.

Having considered the Environmental Assessment Office’s (EAO) summary assessment report, the EAO and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s joint federal comprehensive study and assessment report, the recommendation of the executive director of the EAO not to issue a certificate; and submissions from the SSN, the City of Kamloops and the company, the ministers concluded that taken as a whole, the potential, and in many cases significant, adverse effects of the Ajax project outweighed the potential benefits.

Key findings from the environmental assessment noted by the ministers include:

  • Fifty-three residual and cumulative adverse effects across the five pillars assessed by the EAO (environmental, economic, social, heritage and health) in areas such as air quality and human well-being, Jacko Lake and surrounding area, social and economic valued components, as well as grasslands and ecosystems;
  • The conclusion by the EAO that 21 of these adverse effects were of moderate-to-high magnitude;
  • In addressing the 21 high-to-moderate-magnitude adverse effects, the EAO had low-to-moderate confidence in its assessment of nine of the effects;
  • The compounding potential of the adverse effects; and
  • Significant adverse effects to Indigenous heritage and to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.

Given these conclusions and the close proximity of Ajax to the City of Kamloops, particularly the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, including an elementary school, the ministers concluded the adverse effects would not likely be mitigated to an acceptable level and would therefore present an unacceptable risk.

The ministers acknowledged the high importance of the area to the culture of SSN and agreed that the Ajax project would result in significant adverse effects to Indigenous heritage and to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes. Notwithstanding the mitigation measures and EA certificate conditions proposed by the EAO, the project would also have adverse impacts on SSN’s asserted Aboriginal rights and title, which in many cases, could not be avoided or minimized. The ministers concluded these effects were unacceptable in the circumstances.

The environmental assessment was co-ordinated between the EAO and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and included the establishment of an intergovernmental advisory working group, consultation with Indigenous groups, extensive engagement with the public and the City of Kamloops, the creation of a community advisory group and the negotiation of a collaboration agreement with the SSN.

A graphical timeline of the project’s environmental assessment and the information that informed the assessment can be found at the following link:
https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/api/document/598a1408832a6300190e451f/fetch

To view the Ministers’ Reasons for Decision and other information on the project, please visit the project page on the EAO website: http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/decision.html

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About Mel Rothenburger (5950 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

9 Comments on AJAX – B.C. ministers decide not to issue permit for open-pit mine proposal

  1. Thanks Liz. I hope you are right…

  2. Lesson learned from this six plus year road show by a non Canadain mining company known as KGHM INTERNATIONAL. BC and CANADA will not authorize large open pit mining operations in close proximity to urban markets because the REAL risks will always be much greater than any benefits. Why did Teck Corp close Ajax in 1997, maybe they knew the property could not be mined on a scale sufficient to turn a profit and at the same time maintain a safe operation with the city of Kamloops located only two Kms away.
    Mine developers will always be welcome in Canada, but not if they want to operate too close to populated communities.
    The decision to deny approval for environmental certificates was made on the recommendation of the Exc Director of the BCEAO by the government, a professional employee with very senior skills and experience who knew how to render a correct position.The decision by the current NDP government can not be referred to as a political decision, the government would have to over rule the Exc Director in order to have a political decision, could it have been different if the Liberals had remained in office, maybe so if one considers Stone’s comments which appear to be supported by Milobar.
    The asset value of Ajax was written down by $99,000,000.00 to zero last Dec 31 by the parent company of KGHM. Apparently they were getting ready for the bad news, now they have a few more million to write off this year plus the closing costs to shut it down soon. Personally, I am grateful to KGHM for presenting this business case to BC and Canada at their cost of well over $100,000,000.00 so that we now have a precedent to refer to in the future. Not only is Ajax now worthless, the mineral claims registered by others, about 122 claims, that are closely aligned with the Ajax boundaries are also surely worthless.
    As always we have winners and losers, well done Kamloops you called the game the right way.

  3. Stevan Puharich // December 14, 2017 at 3:40 PM // Reply

    Good on the NDP to not release a permit that would eventually lead to the poisoning of 90,000 people.
    The 250 jobs lost were never worth the risk.

  4. Gee Mel it”s kind of like KAPA didn’t even exist.Thanks for not noticing the 100,000 hours put in by our members to stop this damn thing .

    • Cindy Ross Friedman // December 15, 2017 at 11:15 AM // Reply

      Don’t worry, Tony – this is the article, which cannot give opinions (look for an editorial/column). But we all know who .. (for now) Stopped Ajax … KGHM and its terrible plan.

  5. Graham Strachan // December 14, 2017 at 3:08 PM // Reply

    Great decision….after years of uncertainty!!

  6. Unbelievable. We fought this thing for 6 years and won. Can’t quite fathom it yet.

  7. Does this mean that Cavers doesn’t get the council vote he pushed for ?

  8. Jerome Farrell // December 14, 2017 at 2:55 PM // Reply

    This is the greatest Christmas Present Kamloops could ever have

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