January 15, 2016 - 11:07 AM
KAMLOOPS - As KGHM Ajax Mining prepares to submit its application on Monday, the province has officially responded to the First Nations' land claim on part of the property where the proposed project is slated to operate.
Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation, a group representing the members of Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn First Nations, filed an Aboriginal rights and title claim for the Jacko Lake property southwest of Kamloops. They declared title back in June 2015 and in September they officially filed the claim with the Supreme Court of B.C.
KGHM has said it would consult with First Nations during the process and gave local bands more time to prepare for the review period.
“KGHM Ajax respects First Nations’ assertion of title and will continue to consult with area bands as we work through the environmental assessment process. The issues being raised are larger than Ajax, and involve questions of ownership and tenure that extend well past local borders. These are matters that have been outstanding in B.C. for decades,” Robert Koopmans of KGHM Ajax Mining said when the declaration of title was first made. “KGHM Ajax remains committed to protecting and preserving Jacko Lake for the use and enjoyment of all.”
While KGHM has said it is willing to work with the bands, the provincial government — which has been negotiating with the First Nations groups — is saying it will "vigorously oppose a declaration that has the potential to create uncertainty over the land base and for private property owners across this territory."
The government announced it will still work with First Nations to "ensure they have a meaningful role in land and resource management and that they share the resulting benefits and economic opportunities" and plans to continue to work with them through the court process.
KGHM is submitting its full environmental application for the proposed project on Monday, Jan. 18. The application is expected to be posted to the provincial website that day and the following day plain language summaries will be posted on the Ajax Mine website. Once the application is accepted as a complete submission from the province the six-month review period will begin.
KGHM, the province and the City of Kamloops all plan to host open houses to allow the public to view the information and ask questions. Tentative dates of Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 have been set by KGHM, other dates will be announced later.
If approved, the open-pit copper and gold mine will operate just southwest of Kamloops and is expected to provide hundreds of jobs during the life of the mine. While supporters of the mine espouse the benefits of having so many jobs close to home, opponents are concerned about environmental and human health impacts of having a mine so close to the city.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016