KAMLOOPS - The environmental application is submitted and as we continue to delve deeper into the 18,000 pages it is clear the company believes there will be no significant impacts on Kamloops, unless you count thousands of jobs they anticipate and the economic spinoff those jobs would create.
KGHM Ajax Mining has officially submitted its 18,000-page application for the proposed mine, making the application package and KGHM’s plain language summaries available online. Those summaries will also be available for viewing in its Seymour Street office, at City Hall and at both Kamloops libraries.
We will be taking a look at different elements of the application throughout the week. We’ve already looked at the air quality and human health reports as well as delays the company has faced. Today we look at the economic impact the project could have on the community.
THOUSANDS OF JOBS
External Affairs Manager Yves Lacasse says the project will hire between 1,200 and 1,800 people during construction, which is expected to take 2.5 to 3 years to complete, and then will offer 500 full-time jobs annually during operations.
“For people who work in this industry, they have to travel out of town most of the time,” Lacasse says. “This is a real opportunity for them to have a great job, a well-paying job.”
Clyde Gillespie, the Ajax project manager, says they are committed hiring locally as well.
“We feel if we hire locally and take local residents and train them, we feel they will stay with us for the 20- to 23-year period. We want that secure long-term committed workforce,” he says.
The summary report of the economic portion of the application points to the impact a project of this size would have on other industries, including those related to mining, hospitality and real estate, as well.
Lacasse points to a report from the Mining Association of B.C. that says for every mining job created in B.C. there will be another two to three indirect jobs created in those communities.
“The wealth that could be brought to this community… this is an opportunity of a lifetime to get a project like this coming to Kamloops,” he says.
Gillespie says they have had to reduce and shift staff this year, noting they are down about half the amount of full-time employees they had last year. This reduction is because they won’t be doing any engineering or drilling on site during the review period. They have shifted more people into the permitting side as they prepare their permit applications though.
The summary report notes the project is expected to have a positive impact on the region, with the peak coming during the construction phase and then steady through operations. It is noted Kamloops is home to many businesses with knowledge and experience in the mining industry that will likely benefit from contracts and purchases made by the project.
The company is expected to spend about $1.54 billion on wages, contractors and service providers and taxes, as well as on machinery, equipment and other goods, during the construction phase. About two-thirds of that is expected to be spent in B.C. Once operations begin, the project is expected to spend about $300 million every year. Economists estimate about 25 to 35 per cent of the project’s spending will flow though businesses in the Kamloops area, up to $105 million annually during operation.
The project is expected to add about $220 million annually to the provincial economy, with tax revenues to all levels of government hitting about $84 million annually.
The summary expects there could be adverse effects on economic growth as the local workforce and businesses adjust to the quick change and will likely come in the form of employee attraction and retention as well as pressure to increase wages.
KGHM Ajax Mining has said the company will work with programs, universities and community partners to help develop training and co-op programs if necessary.
PROPERTY VALUES HARD TO GAUGE
While the summary looks at property values, the socio-economists analyzing the numbers note it is hard to evaluate real estate because a lot of factors play into property values, and some are very personal.
“Some studies have shown a link between industrial sites and decreased property values, while other locales — especially where multiple projects have been developed nearby —have seen property values rise,” the report reads. “It is very difficult to separate out how much one factor — such a distance to the site, traffic, noise, air quality, changes in view from a property, or the perception of risk — can have on price.”
The report notes while some people are concerned over the potential undesirable affect the mine could have on residential property values in the area, not everyone is concerned about proximity. The boost in income levels could help support the property market, especially in the early years of operations when incoming workers may buy homes in the area.
The ‘theoretical ways’ the mine could negatively impact private properties in the area include changes to air quality, noise, vibration and scenic views, but the summary notes with no significant impacts expected, any negative impacts would likely be short-lived.
“Concerns about air quality effects could motivate a dip in house prices as people wait to see what air quality results are like after operations begin,” the summary notes, adding even if there is no measurable change in air quality, noise, vibrations or views, concerns or perceptions can be powerful and still affect desirability of a property. “These effects are expected to be temporary and reversible, although they may persist from the start of construction through the first few years of operations, until (the project) demonstrates that effects are effectively managed, and that predictions of the assessment were accurate.”
The company will take part in open houses being put on by the Environmental Assessment Office, which are expected to take place mid-February, and will also be offering information sessions to neighbourhood and community groups. The city is also planning open houses and KGHM will have fact sheets available for a broad overview of certain topics.
For more stories on the proposed Ajax Mine, an open-pit copper and gold mine set to operate just southwest of Kamloops, if approved, click here.
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