More interest for second Ajax info session

By Jessica Lepp
February 17, 2016 - 4:25pm Updated: February 17, 2016 - 5:33pm

KAMLOOPS — A second public briefing on the proposed KGHM-Ajax copper gold mine drew a larger crowd at the Coast Hotel and Conference Centre this afternoon.

The public was met by staff from the province's Environmental Assessment Office and the Federal Government.

The repeat of yesterday's event also allowed residents to hear from toxicologists and water experts.

The proposed project on the outskirts of the city limits is presently going through an environmental assessment process.

Part of the process includes public information sessions such as today's event.

The spokesperson for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Christian Vezeau, says, “there are ultimately two decisions. There is going to be a federal and provincial decision. There is a comment period going on the project. We're soliciting input from the public, from residents of Kamloops, and First Nations. We wanted to get as many comments as possible to inform the EAO on the project.”

It didn't take long for some to form an opinion on the proposal.

Longtime Kamloops resident Boris Karpoff says, “I am a mining engineer myself of over 60 years. I know they will do a very good job. There are so many experts already working on that project. The results are very good.”

But the information presented today didn't please everyone.

Bill Hadgkiss who is also a Kamloops resident says, “I went to all of the presentations yesterday, asked questions about the air and water that they're testing. They are not talking about testing once they start production, and they will have these various ingredients that are bad for us in our water and air.”

While those opposed to the project have long been raising concern about noise and dust from Ajax, Karpoff says he couldn't disagree more.

“Right now we have so many trucks going down the Coquihalla Highway. The emissions are very bad but Ajax will control the dust. And as far as the explosions from the blasting, they will also control that too.”

The public briefing also gave residents the opportunity to hear from experts and ask questions on issues like water quality in Kamloops.

Hadgkiss says, “It's too big and too close. You can mine somewhere else. In the last 30 years they've had to increase their ore and processing of rock 10 times. We're getting 10 times as much bad stuff being distributed into the air because it's busted out of the rocks.”

While the city remains divided on the issue, the province and the federal government is using this time to review the mine and garner public input.

Vezeau says, “at this time we're at the stage where the proponent has done all of the studies. The next step will be for us to draft a comprehensive study report which is basically a document outlining my agency's conclusions and recommendation on the project. We'll also propose mitigation measures to lessen the impact on the environment, if needed."

Eventually B.C. and Ottawa will make independent decisions on the application.

There will be two more open houses on Ajax, on March 15 and 16.

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