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Ajax 3-D model falls flat

Yves Lacasse, external affairs manager for KGHM Ajax, demonstrates a 3-D model of the mine for a full house at city council Tuesday afternoon.
Image Credit: SOURCE/City of Kamloops

Council questions available information

By Jennifer Stahn

KGHM Ajax was at Tuesday's council meeting to present a prototype of a 3-D model and about 30 people packed the council chambers either looking for answers or to voice their disapproval of the project.

It became clear very early on the model being shown to council was still in the early stages and was not yet fully developed but council still appreciated getting to see the preliminary model and agreed to have external affairs manager Yves Lacasse back to present the finalized model in about six weeks.

Lacasse acknowledged there has been delays in the project - which he attributed to the transition of KGHM International taking over the project and changes to the original plan - but said he was in front of council to “provide the information you have been asking for, that residents have been asking for.”

The company did have a video made previously but “felt it was not suitable to show the public” and Google Earth has now been “deemed the best tool to showcase the mine.”

The 3-D model utilizing Google Earth software allows users to move within and around the city to see the mine and the surrounding areas. So far the company is working on providing 11 line of sight points that show the details of what can be seen of the mine from that particular spot in the city. As users look at the mining site they can also click on different points to get information specific to that piece of the mine.

The two points of view Mayor Peter Milobar asked to be shown using the software were Jacko Lake and Hwy 5 running alongside the site. Jacko Lake showed a berm surrounding the lake and blocking much of the view of the mine but the highway image showed a large tailings storage facility running along the highway dwarfing Sugarloaf Mountain – which garnered a bit of a gasp and lots of whispers from the audience.

While council was happy to see something from KGHM they were disappointed that some of their earlier concerns and requests had not yet been met, including certain view points for the 3-D model. Questions were asked about the available view points, whether any more would be added and whether KGHM intended to include the Thompson Nicola Regional District on the map, something Coun. Nelly Dever said was requested at an earlier stage.

Dever also wants to be given the chance to try out the software again before it comes to council again in six weeks so they can come up with actual questions based on hands-on use prior to that meeting. Lacasse quickly agreed to making sure council gets a chance to do just that.

Lacasse agreed openly to many of the statements from council, agreeing often the company needs to be more open and provide more information to the public, but did not offer any concrete plans as to how that would happen, which once again had members of the audience groaning and chuckling at several points in the conversation.

“I agree with you, there will be some studies that will be available to share with community soon. There is a link between some studies and (that) will not be able to be released until later, but we will share information. That's my commitment – we're going to do a better job at this.”

Lacasse agreed to “absolutely” allow the KGHM letter of response to the 11-page letter from council to be posted on the city website – though the questions would be answered in stages with the first round expected in a couple of weeks, he said.

Social license was also a hot topic, with both Coun. Donovan Cavers and Coun. Tina Lange asking specifically about the topic and several others looking for more information about the lack of information and the responsibility to the residents to provide that information.

Council also noted they had already received more than 2,200 emails from people who had signed a recent online petition, and many of them from Kamloops. A wide variety of concerns has been brought to council's attention but one of the things that bothers Coun. Ken Christian the most, he said, is the self-fulfilling prophecy created by people's fears.

“If 1,000 people in Aberdeen are saying home values will go down, they will.” Christian quipped.

Christian wants to see KGHM offer up information as soon it is available instead of waiting until they have it all and believes that doing so will help alleviate people's fear, and make it easier to process the information.

Lacasse was joined by Bill Matheson, project development manager, and Dan Ferriter, vice president environmental, in explanations of how the plans have changed. While the pit will remain in the same location Ferriter explained the arrangement of other mining zones could be changed. One of the more significant changes the mine is looking at is moving the waste and tailings storage to sites further away from the city, though they were unable to provide an actual location of these storage facilities when asked.

Matheson explained a process the company is looking at for trucking the waste out that would not require it to first be crushed, which would help reduce dust. He does not expect that subsequent test blasts will be needed, though the results from that portion of testing are not back just yet.

Lange came straight out and asked the KGHM staff, “at what point do you think we don't have the support of the community, this project isn't worth doing?”

Lacasse danced around the question, simply noting he knows a lot of people are against it, but a lot of people are in support of the mine as well. “We care about what the community has to say, we ask the community to be patient, there will be a time when we provide our report, we will share our studies.”

“I think the point of asking for patience is gone,” Lange responded, “people have been waiting a long time for information.”

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

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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