Ajax mine study finds minimal air quality impact

By Tanya Cronin
January 18, 2016 - 4:47pm Updated: January 19, 2016 - 1:39am

KAMLOOPS — Nearly 5 years, countless hours of research, and finally the facts are in. Everything you wanted to know about the proposed KGHM-Ajax Copper-Gold Mine, has been made public.

"We have waited a long time and encouraged our consultants to dig deep and leave no stone unturned. Now that we have the studies, we're able to have those discussions based on the studies and science and work that's been done," says Clyde Gillespie, KGHM-Ajax Project Manager.

KGHM-Ajax has sumbitted an 18,000 page application to the BC Environmental Assessment Office, in its quest to gain approval for the proposed copper-gold mine, South of Kamloops. The report discusses several areas of concern, including air quality, human health, and the decision to switch from dry stack to wet tailings to store waste produced by the mining process. 

"We're very pleased there are no significant impacts and the project can be constructed and operated, reclaimed and closed in a manner that won't be a significant impact to to the community," says Gillespie.

When it comes to air quality, experts hired by the company to help prepare the application, say there's no concern. For residents living above Aberdeen Drive, more particulate will be added to the air, but even then, the neighbourhood will still have the best air quality in the city.

"6% increase in PM for example in the the very nearest areas of Aberdeen to the project, and when you get down past Aberdeen Drive, it's much less. It's in the 1% range, downtown it's less than 1%. We're not going to see big changes throughout the whole city," says Peter Reid of Stantec Consulting.

With a team of 10, Peter Reid of Stantec Consulting modelled the mine in isolation and the city in isolation, and an overlay found the changes to be minimal.

"We know that we exceed PM 2.5 in the downtown area, but we didn't understand how far up the Valley wall that went. Blasting occurs everyday in the pit, there's traffic on roads, there's dust from other areas, so we looked at how that moves around the mine site, how much of it gets into town," says Reid. 
Reid says air quality in the Valley bottom is worse than any changes caused by the mine proposal. But there's no magical wall at Aberdeen Drive and particulates will get into the Valley. However, they will be so dispersed and too small to measure, it won't pose a risk.

"There's a lot of things happening when the particles move out of the mine and they're largely mixing with cleaner air and dispersing. On a day when it's drying out and we get a lot of wind, that's the day you might see some noticeable effects of the mine."

Guilty plea expected in shooting of Kamloops RCMP officer