B.C., Federal Governments Urged to Halt Ajax Mine Project Review Until Full Feasibility Study Is Released

Kamloops Area Preservation Association – MiningWatch Canada

(January 19, 2016) Local, provincial, and national groups are asking the federal and provincial governments to halt the review period on the Application for proposed Ajax open pit mine in Kamloops until the proponent, KGHM Ajax, has released its full updated feasibility study for the project.

KGHM Ajax released the Application on Monday, January 18, 2016. Five days earlier, Abacus Mining and Exploration, the 20% partner in the Ajax project, issued a news release containing highlights of the updated feasibility study. The news release stated that the full feasibility study will not be released for up to 45 days. “The problem with holding back this feasibility study for up to 45 days is that it cuts well into the 75 day public comment period on the Application for the proposed project,” Kamloops Area Preservation Association spokesperson, John Schleiermacher notes.

“All essential information for the project should be released at the same time,” says Schleiermacher. “This is a question of due process. This is not full disclosure, and this is certainly not the rigorous, comprehensive and transparent process that we were promised.”

“One key set of scientific data mentioned in the Abacus news release,” Schleiermacher adds, “is the large data base of drilling results. The full set of baseline chemical information contained in this data base is not in the Application. Without this data, the science regarding the impacts of the toxic substances we know is in the rock, for example, arsenic, mercury, chromium, lead and asbestos, will not be sufficient to ensure public safety.”

“Scott Bailey, of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, promised the Ajax Community Advisory Group that the complete assay data would be released in the Application,” Schleiermacher adds. “Bailey has the power to require this information be disclosed. We don’t care if the gold and copper values are not released, but we are adamant that the data on the toxic elements and compounds in the Ajax deposit should be fully disclosed now.”

Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, points out that “the feasibility study contains key information about the project’s technical and financial level of risks. This information is crucial, particularly for such a dangerous project on the edge of a city like Kamloops in terms of health, and long-term liability of the mine waste left behind.”

“The B.C. Government said it would adopt all of the Mount Polley Review Panel recommendations, including the requirement that a feasibility study be part of any mine proposals involving tailings dams,” Lapointe notes. “Ajax is proposing to construct several tailings dams. We are therefore asking that the B.C. Government not begin the review period for the Ajax Application until this crucial information is disclosed.”

Regarding the copper and gold prices that Abacus states are being used to value the project ―US$3.21/lb. for copper and US$1200/oz. for gold ― Lapointe observes that these prices are well above the current and average long-term prices for these metals. At lower prices like we have now, this mine is not profitable, and would not be able to pay the cost of major dangerous spills or long-term clean-up,” Lapointe concludes.

The groups listed below will be reviewing the Application in detail, in particular issues involving air quality and health impacts, contamination of surface and ground water, and the worst case scenario of a major tailings ponds failure and its impact on the City of Kamloops.

The Kamloops Area Preservation Association will be sending a letter to the federal and provincial government assessment agencies asking that the Ajax assessment be halted until crucial information in the Ajax feasibility study is disclosed.

For further information contact:

  • John Schleiermacher, Kamloops Area Preservation Association, (250) 374-7431
  • Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, (514) 708-0134

This news release is endorsed by the following groups and organizations:

  • Kamloops Area Preservation Association
  • MiningWatch Canada
  • Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society
  • Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association Human Rights Committee
  • Kamloops Moms for Clean Air
  • Kamloops Concerned Citizens
  • Sierra Club of B.C.
  • Thompson Institute of Environmental Studies
  • Thompson Watershed Coalition
  • Aberdeen Neighbourhood Association