New Afton Mine near Kamloops seeks community input on 2030 closure | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New Afton Mine near Kamloops seeks community input on 2030 closure

New Afton Mine property west of Kamloops.
May 03, 2021 - 10:41 AM

As the New Afton Mine west of Kamloops starts to plan for transition into closure over the next decade, the company has launched a campaign to reach out for community input on the social implications.

A new collaborative approach is taking shape to bring input from both employees and the regional community to the table, in order to strategize an exit strategy for a mine that employs 610 people, not including contractors and suppliers.

The campaign is called Beyond New Afton and it's aimed at securing a smooth transition for both employees at the mine and for the communities that will be affected when they close up shop.

"It's important to first have this dialog to really understand their thoughts and views on what the post mining legacy would be," Scott Davidson, environment, lands and permitting manager at New Afton, told iNFOnews.ca. "It's really about bringing diverse voices to the table, so we can really make sure what we're doing make sense. Then we can really start to dive into the mechanics and start programs that we need."

The New Afton Mine was originally planned for closure in 2022, but when they announced last year to continue the mine to 2030, the Beyond New Afton committee was put together in order to make long-term plans for social implications, much like a mine must have a biophysical closure plan.

“Not only does our committee include employees from different parts of our mine operations, but our Beyond New Afton project will be making a survey available to anyone from the community who wishes to participate," said Korah De Walt-Gagnon in a news release. "For our committee, we need this to be collaborative and innovative because we all believe this is the right thing to do.”

De Walt-Gagnon is New Afton's First Nations coordinator, who's tasked with bringing Secwepemc communities' concerns and inputs to the committee as the mine plans to wind down.

Five communities were identified as those that will be affected and consulted with as part of the closure strategy. Those include current employees and their families, the mine's contractors and suppliers, the members of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the Skeetchestn Indian Band, and Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation.

Davidson said studies and consultations for closure strategies have been more common in recent years in developing countries, rather than in Canada. Namely, New Afton was inspired by the efforts taken on by their sister mine in Cerro San Pedro in Mexico.

He sees this as a growing trend within the mining industry, that resource extraction projects that are temporary by nature will begin to include both environmental and social strategies as they wind down operations.

Davidson calls it an "evolution" of the mining industry.

While biophysical closure plans are required of mining operations by law, plans such as employee retraining and community engagement like these are not, and Davidson believes it would be difficult to implement such a legislation because of the diversity of both land and communities impacted by mining projects.

However, he also believes this trend will continue within the industry, and more of these consultations will be included within closure plans.

To take part in the Beyond New Afton survey, click here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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