March 23, 2016 - 2:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - After several hours of discussion, council has agreed to support the consultants it hired in their quest for more information on the proposed Ajax Mine application.
During a special meeting this morning, March 23, council discussed their response to the initial report from SLR Consulting, the firm hired by the city to investigate the 18,000-page environmental assessment application recently submitted by KGHM Ajax Mining.
Council agreed to submit a letter to the federal and provincial environmental assessment offices as part of the public comment period, which ends April 11. The letter will highlight specific concerns council has about the application and their support for the consultants request for more information.
The letter will contain a list of specific issues council decided were important to highlight. The draft letter before the meeting included broad topics of groundwater, air quality, vibration, human health, tailings management, local effects on the community and aquatics. Councillors added impact on the city’s image, climate change, dark sky issues, Jacko Lake concerns and specific details to many of the broad concerns including property value.
Earlier this week, the consulting firm told council that at the beginning of the month they had submitted 801 comments and 21 broad memos looking for more information about the mine application. Paul Draycott, the SLR Consulting's technical manager working on the project, noted this is not a high number of comments or questions for a project of this type.
Jen Fretz, the city’s public works director, says they will submit the letter to the environmental assessment offices as part of the public comment period, as well as post it to the city website. The city will then be waiting on more information to come from their independent consultant, who is meeting with technical working groups including the KGHM and government representatives.
“And hoping like heck we get the information back in a timely manner. This next week is critical,” she says. “So if we don’t get that kind of information that’s going to take quite a long time to go through within the next week then the potential to have all this reviewed in time is looking less and less likely.”
She says she hopes KGHM is forthcoming with the information and the environmental offices can speed the process up, but notes there is a lot of information to review.
“I hope we don’t get to the point where we don’t have enough information by May 9,” she says.
May 9 is when the council will again meet specifically about the proposed Ajax Mine, with the goal of voting on whether or not to officially voice support for the application. It's the last meeting council will have about the proposed mine during this portion of the process.
The 75-day public comment period for the controversial proposed open-pit copper and gold mine ends April 11. The city has an extended deadline for providing its stance and feedback and expects to submit something around May 9. The federal and provincial assessment offices will decide whether or not to grant the mine's proponents environmental permits, or ask for more information on the project, once the review period ends this summer.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016