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AJAX MINE: Students at Pacific Way ‘will never know’ blasts are happening

January 21, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - The environmental application is submitted and as we dig deeper into the 18,000 pages it is clear the company is very confident there will be no significant impacts on Kamloops, even from noise or vibration.

KGHM Ajax Mining officially submitted its 18,000-page application for the proposed mine and now the application package and KGHM’s plain language summaries are available online. Those summaries will also be available for viewing in its Seymour Street office, at City Hall and at both Kamloops libraries.

We have been 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 and the economic impacts of the proposed mine.

Today we look at noise and vibration impacts.


One of the biggest questions asked about the proposed mine is if we will see, hear or feel the blasting. According to the project manager, even the kids at Pacific Way Elementary, one of the closest points to the open pit, won’t notice the blasting

“From Pacific Way Elementary you won’t be able to see a blast at anytime during our operation,” Clyde Gillespie says.”If you were going to take them all outside, at two o’clock, get everybody shut down, nobody says a word, don’t let any traffic drive by and say ‘we’re going to have a moment of silence to see if we can hear the blast’, there’s a chance you could hear it. With normal activity, kids on a playground, they’ll never know it.”

Gillespie says the vibration won’t be noticed either, though if everything was absolutely still and no other activity was happening, including traffic, and you knew exactly when the blast is going off, you "might" be able to feel it.

In the summary on noise and vibration effects on human health the company outlines how it looked at noise and vibration and the likelihood of people being able to notice the mine operations in this way.

For the local area noise a standard of 1.5 kilometres from the closest structure or feature of the project was used while vibration impacts used a standard of three kilometres from the pit boundary. Based on those projections, which include a large portion of the Upper Aberdeen area, the vibration levels are predicted to be "well below" levels that could cause structural damage or annoyance, according to the summary.

The only area the experts expect people to regularly be able to see, hear and feel operations, including blasting, is within the project footprint, though a few homes in the surrounding ranch land could also be impacted. Jacko Lake will be affected, but falls within the footprint and on some days the area will need to be cleared prior to blasting.

It’s noted noise can also come from drilling, rock crushing and heavy vehicles hauling rock. While blasting will only occur during daytime hours other operations will take place day and night, and haul trucks are expected to be the dominant noise source during operations. According to B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and Health Canada guidelines it’s not expected noise will exceed people’s "annoyance threshold" at any of the residential locations or schools.

“Drilling, blasting, and road construction during mine construction are expected to have vibration effects on people, although all effects from vibrations during the construction phase are expected to be within acceptable levels,” the report states, noting there are no provincial guidelines and federal guidelines focus on structures rather than people so an Australian standard was used.

The proposed Ajax Mine.
The proposed Ajax Mine.

The company says changes to the footprint, announced in May 2014, were partially in response to people’s concern over noise and vibration. The current footprint moved noisier activities and equipment away from the city boundary, increased the "buffer distance" around work activities and limited the number of vehicle movements that will be needed.

Other steps will also be taken to reduce noise, including covered conveyors, enclosed stockpiles, equipment mufflers, placing heavy equipment within buildings and using larger trucks reduce the number of trips.

The company will take part in open houses being put on by the provincial and federal environmental assessment agencies in February and March, 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.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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