Scientists say Ajax won't affect water in Peterson Creek

By Chad Klassen
March 15, 2016 - 5:15pm

KAMLOOPS — Peterson Creek is a popular place for people in Kamloops, attracting thousands of visitors every year to walk, hike, and bike the trails and take in the beautiful scenary. 

But what happens if the Ajax mine is approved?

WATCH: Full story by Reporter Chad Klassen

We know Peterson Creek will be diverted upstream as part of KGHM's water management plan in the area. 

"We'll have a pumping system that will move the water from Jacko Lake around and put it back into the stream just below the project," says Ajax project manager Clyde Gillespie.

That is because part of where Peterson Creek currently flows is where the open pit would be. 

Peterson Creek has been a source of water for both drinking water and irrigation since the 1800s. 

While most get their water from an intake on the South Thompson River,some residents are concerned about water quality and potential leaking of mine waste.

"In working closely with scientists, they've helped us to identify where there could be potential impacts, and then we've developed mitigation and adapted our design to address the concerns. To capture that water, rather than release it," says Gillespie.

The company will have water management ponds around the mine site to reduce any seepage. 

"The water management ponds are intended to catch run-off from our facilities, and allow us to capture it and pump it and use it in the process. Any of the water that comes in contact with our facility, we want to contain and use it, so if there is any changes in the water quality, it doesn't affect the downstream users."

Water quality experts have been studying the area since 2007 and say the diversion will help preserve the water that flows through Peterson Creek. 

"Because it's through a pipeline, it won't get the dust fall, run-off from the site won't affect it. It's just taken from one point, with contact with the environment, and deposited further downstream," says Jessica Mackie from Knight Piesold Consulting.

While there may be an increase in sulphate during mine operations, experts say water will still be safe to consume. 

"The sulphate is quite high, all of these are added by leaching through the placement of waste rock and tailings in the property area, so there's additional loading from those because they're exposed to ambient conditions," says Mackie.

But with the water management ponds and an adequate tailings dam that is well-contained, experts aren't concerned moving forward. 

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