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NEWSMAKERS 2014: The proposed Ajax Mine

December 31, 2014 - 2:30 PM

THIS WEEK, INFONEWS.CA IS COUNTING DOWN THE TOP NEWSMAKERS OF 2014. TODAY: NUMBER THREE

KAMLOOPS — On the surface, not much happened with the proposed Ajax mine; the environmental review wasn't finished and no decisions have been made. But the proposal still loomed large over public discourse in Kamloops throughout the year, making it our third choice for top newsmaker of 2014.

In May, KGHM, the company making the proposal, announced a new footprint for the mine. The new layout pushed many facilities south, away from the city, and a new type of tailings storage. The company maintained that the move was made because of community concerns while opponents questioned whether the findings from ore body studies guided the move.

The following month the Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment released a brochure, in it they said there is no need to wait for the studies specific to the proposed mine because there are already studies out there that show the mine would be bad for the air around Kamloops. Several experts were upset with how the information was presented, putting both the physicians and the mine back back under the microscope.

The opponents of the mine were not done yet though. A few months later Dr. Dennis Karpiak, an internal medicine and respiratory disease specialist, and Ken Blawatt, a former university professor, released a report outlining what they said would be the costs of the proposed mine. They pegged the number at a 'conservative' $6 billion but said the costs could easily be as high as $20 billion. In their report they said the mine would directly be responsible for a rise in healthcare costs, a loss of tourism revenue and a drop in international students at Thompson Rivers University.

Several speakers were arranged by Ajax opponents throughout the year as well and a picket line was set up in front of the Coast Hotel when KGHM held public information sessions there, and again later to let Premier Christy Clark know what they thought of the project when she, and the rest of her caucus, came to town for a luncheon.

The city continued to push the federal government for a panel review and the provincial government for information sessions, especially after the new footprint was announced. While the panel review was ‘politely’ turned down, it took a bit of back and forth before the information sessions were finally approved. Held in November, hundreds of people took in the sessions, which allowed them to ask questions directly of provincial and federal environmental assessment staff.

The change in footprint was also enough for the assessment agency to reopen the public input session on the application requirements for the project.

And, though the City of Kamloops has no bearing on mine approval, Ajax was a major factor in the civic election. It began in September when Elaine Sedgman entered the mayoral race as Mr. Open Pitbelly, a satirical character bringing the mine to the forefront of the election. Many candidates made public declarations for or against the mine hoping to sway voters and many voters demanded to know candidates' stances. 

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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