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Union head warns Kamloops to be wary of KGHM

Richard Boyce.
Image Credit: USW7619.com
October 22, 2013 - 12:42 PM

NO SUPPORT FOR AJAX MINE

KAMLOOPS – What started as a benign invitation to speak to the Rotary Club of Kamloops resulted in Richard Boyce passionately questioning the proposed Ajax mine and saying he cannot support it as things stand now.

The United Steelworkers Local 7619 president says it's not just about supporting the mine or not. He has always asked questions of the proponent, like he did in a March 2011 report entitled “Appropriate risk?” The continued lack of information and frustration from union members led him to speaking out earlier today.

“Personally, on the information out now, I can't endorse it. Nor would I,” he says. “I think we need to take a closer look at this.”

Boyce says he struggled with what he would say, if anything, specific to the mine. He ultimately decided to say what he really thinks, as an individual, as a leader and representative of the industry, and as a Kamloops resident.

In 2011, Boyce penned the five-page look at the proposed mine and what it could mean for Kamloops. He questioned the lack of information at that time, but concluded it was an opportunity worth looking at as long as the necessary environmental approval processes were in place.

Boyce no longer thinks it should be looked at. It's too close and a lack of concrete answers makes it hard to support. There's a time and place for everything and Boyce says he's not yet convinced the time and place is for the mine to open now, 'perched' as it is, on the edge of Kamloops.

“They know information without any environmental studies. They know how much equipment they need and how many mechanics will be needed for that equipment. They know, for instance, how many apprenticeships they could offer local youth. But none of that information is out there,” he says. “You have to get solid answers in writing. Those people who are speaking on behalf of (KGHM) now won't be the ones making decisions about operations.”

Two big issues are the noise and the potential health impacts, Boyce says, noting if you park a couple kilometeres away from the Highland Valley Copper Mine you'll hear 'plenty' of noise. The proposed Ajax mine would be even closer to some residents and the health impact from just the diesel fumes alone could cause problems.

“I wouldn't want one of my kids going to that school,” Boyce says of Pacific Way Elementary, adding there's no guarantee about the health impacts. He wouldn't want it on his conscious if he didn't question the potential for health impacts.

With a final warning, Boyce notes he doesn't think the people of Kamloops will benefit from the mine. He feel it will be just the shareholders that do.

“I think Kamloops has to be careful of those bearing gifts... It's hard to end that relationship,” he says. “Kamloops has been accepting a whole lot of gifts from that organization. How do you say no now?”

A group of people against the proposed mine will be rallying in front of the KGHM office on Seymour this Saturday at noon.

KGHM Ajax spokesperson Robin Bartlett says the company will not be commenting on what Boyce had to say earlier today and when it comes to the rally on Saturday they won't keep people from doing what they feel they need to do and no one from the KGHM team is expected to be at the office on Saturday.

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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