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LOOK BACK 2013: Ajax mine in the spotlight

Anti-Ajax supporters faced off against supporters of the mine during a rally at TRU in September.
January 03, 2014 - 8:25 AM

KAMLOOPS – The push for and against the proposed mine hit a high this year as more forums were held, more groups created and several rallies that saw opponents and proponents face off in a war of words, morals and beliefs.

The year kicked off Yves Lacasse leaving life as the top RCMP officer in Kamloops for life as the external affairs manager at KGHM Ajax Mining Inc. This decision brought a lot of backlash and had opponents of the mine questioning the intentions of hiring such a high profile member of the community with no background in mining. The same questions were asked again over the summer when Kamloops Daily News Editor Robert Koopmans also left to take on a community relations role with the company.

While the company was busy building an even stronger public relations team opponents were also adding members and groups to their arsenal. Speakers were brought in from Salt Lake City to talk about living next to a massive mine, doctors and health professionals formed Kamloops Physicians for  Healthy Environment and local moms created Kamloops Moms for Clean Air and the Community Advisory Group.

The Aberdeen Community Group and Kamloops Area Preservation Association continued their push against the mine, questioning every notice, release and event the company had and why there wasn't a lot of information or answers out yet. The local mining union president and two tourism professors at Thompson Rivers University also openly questioned the mine this year.

Two surveys were held throughout the year to gauge residents feelings on the mine and while both showed more people with negative feelings towards the mine the results were not completely one-sided. Two petitions circulating earlier in the year also showed mixed feeling towards the mine though the one in support of the mine gathered less signatures than the one against the mine.

KGHM finally answered questions from the city, almost two years after they were initially asked, but the answers left a lot to be desired according to many council members, including councillors Tina Lange and Donovan Cavers, the only two council members to outright state they are against the mine.

The reluctance from the rest of council to take a side has led many of the opposition to question why they won't and whether than means the city is hoping the proposed mine will get the green light from the province. It will be awhile longer before the province can approve or deny anything though. KGHM announced in August it potentially found more ore bodies and was investigating those further, which would delay the submission of the environmental assessment, which was originally to be filed in September, indefinitely.

Two rallies were held by opposition members after the announcement, one in September at Thompson Rivers University just prior to the final public information session being held by the company at the campus and another in front of the downtown KGHM office in October that drew a few hundred people. Both rallies saw supporters of the mine show up and while the September rally resulted in both sides get in a heated battle the October rally saw more idle confrontations with both sides keeping their distance from each other.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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