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Federal government still considering request for Ajax Mine panel review

File Photo: Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
June 14, 2016 - 11:30 AM

KAMLOOPS - A decision has not yet been made on the regional district's request for a federal panel review on the proposed Ajax Mine, a spokesperson for the federal environment ministry says.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has responded to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District request, but does not specifically say a federal review panel is off the table. The request is being considered in relation to responses from the recent public comment period, press secretary Caitlin Workman says in an email.

"No decision has been made yet by the minister on this matter, which will be considered in relation to the comments received following the comment period that closed in April 11," she writes.

The regional district received a letter from McKenna last week addressing a district letter sent March 24. In her letter McKenna acknowledges the request for a review panel, but doesn’t make a statement as to whether she’ll approve or reject the request. She does note the provincial and federal environmental assessment agencies are currently working on the project, and the district's letter will be shared with the agencies.

The reply isn't a surprise to the chair of regional district board, John Ranta.

"I think we didn’t expect anything other," he says. "The federal government has suggested the process they have in place provides a comprehensive review of the proposal."

He says the temporary suspension of the project's environmental assessment application has diminished the urgency for those looking for the panel, as well.

McKenna has previously said no to a request from the City of Kamloops for a federal panel review.

If approved, the proposed copper and gold mine will operate just southwest of Kamloops. Currently the project is in the review period of its environmental assessment application, which has been temporarily suspended by the provincial agency overseeing the application at the request of KGHM Ajax Mining.

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