EDITORIAL – Hint of Ajax mine being back on the table is unwelcome news

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT we were rid of Ajax, it’s back. Maybe.

Yes, Abacus Mining, a minority owner in the proposed open-pit copper and gold mine just south of the Kamloops city limits, says the project isn’t dead.

Abacas and KGHM are looking at the possibility of resubmitting an environmental permit application, the junior partner says.

We all feared Ajax might come back to haunt us; we just hoped upon hope it wouldn’t happen, and certainly not so soon.

It’s been a little more than a year since the welcome news that the federal government had rejected the mine project based on negative environmental impacts. The decision by the feds followed one by the provincial government several months earlier for similar reasons.

The prospect of a 1,700-hectare open pit mine on the city’s doorstep divided the residents of Kamloops and the surrounding region for a half dozen years. We talked of little else. Things became bitter as the pros and the cons waged a war of words.

Kamloops City council opposed the mine. Environmental groups opposed the mine. First Nations opposed the mine. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of studies were done on the environmental, social and economic impacts of it.

It seemed at times as though those opposed to the project were like David taking on Goliath. In the end, David won.

Despite that victory, the process was deeply stressful.

And now Ajax, it appears, is back on the table. Maybe it won’t amount to anything, but there shouldn’t even be a remote possibility. Building mines next door to cities, or any populated areas, should never be contemplated.

The message to mining companies who try it should be loud and clear: we don’t want you here.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7843 Articles) 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 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.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Hint of Ajax mine being back on the table is unwelcome news

  1. Richard Lodmell // October 2, 2019 at 6:24 PM // Reply

    The KGHM-Ajax project was put on hold because of a Supreme Court case (S51952) filed for the fee simple land title of the Jacko Lake area by local Chiefs (SSN) several years ago.

    I would like to think that, because of the Abacus announcement, a settlement in favor of KGHM-Ajax, the Province of BC and the Attorney General of Canada has been made and am awaiting the official news.

    Once this land claims issue is settled, fee simple land title holders will need not to be concerned about their property.

    The BCEAO stated that ” It is not likely that KGHM-Ajax will cause adverse effects.” This statement is the preliminary step for the approval of mining.

    I only hope that KGHM-Ajax does not give city council or the SSN any extortion payments, it would only make them appear as if they in some way had a legitimate argument against the mine. Kamloops will prosper greatly from the mine, it would be a crying shame to give those that have opposed the mine anything but scorn.

  2. Robert Fennell // October 1, 2019 at 8:17 PM // Reply

    A mine at the edge of town? I don’t know, we seem to have done pretty well with Afton there. It’s about the same distance as the Ajax proposal and nobody has died yet that I heard of. They also added many millions of dollars to the local economy. I think, before everybody flies off into another fit of anti-industry hysteria, they should wait and see just what the Abacus people have in mind. Who knows? Perhaps their “plan B” will be an underground version or a scaled down pit operation with all the latest high-tech safeguards. Don’t be so anxious to throw away an opportunity for good high-paying jobs up here in the interior. That’s the NDP’s job….

  3. Linda Bourque // October 1, 2019 at 6:37 PM // Reply

    Here’s to Ajax making it thru the this time. We need the jobs and benefits it offers. Other areas such as Sparwood live and work in harmony with mines in their back yard. Today’s mining industries are responsible stake holders in our community.

  4. Barry Baker // October 1, 2019 at 6:14 PM // Reply

    This wouldn’t be an issue if council had allowed the property northeast of Coal Hill to be sub-divided in (what was it) 2- and 4-acre lots, prior to KGHM even announcing plans for the mine.

  5. Since no one has yet to make frugality “hip” where will all the copper required for a post-carbon economy come from one may ask? Seven billions and counting and they all want to live like Canadian middle class…

  6. Sean McGuinness // October 1, 2019 at 8:52 AM // Reply

    This project is a zombie. I suspect it will arise from its grave and come knocking at our door now and then, but not as a real threat. Perhaps the prospect of a new govt has awakened it. But honestly, where is the political will to revive it? Despite dire predictions, Kamloops has prospered without Ajax.

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