Councillors question SLR report before making final decision on Ajax

By Chad Klassen
June 22, 2017 - 7:00pm

KAMLOOPS — Three days after SLR presented the final results of its study into KGHM-Ajax's application to the public on Monday night, the environmental consultant opened the floor for questions from city council. 

It started off positive, at least for KGHM, as Paul Draycott from SLR wrapped up loose ends, namely the economic benefits of the mine and the 400 jobs it promises. 

But once he opened the floor to questions, councilors switched the focus back to potential environmental effects, including the monitoring of air quality. 

Arjun Singh asked, "Has KGHM given a good sense at this point as to what the monitoring regime will look like? Have they been warm to an independent environmental monitor?"

Draycott responded by saying it's "a recommendation that goes the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, and if they concur with that recommendation, they would make it a condition of the project approval."

As it is, KGHM would be required to monitor the air quality. That air quality was a hot topic around the table, as it was Monday night, and in particular the promise of 90% dust mitigation. 

"From the sounds of it, the 90% target seems pretty challenging to reach," said councillor Donovan Cavers, who's strongly against the Ajax mine. "So I'm wondering if you can talk about what 80% dust mitigation looks like, what 70% dust mitigation would look like?"

Draycott said, "we see a doubling over baseline at 80%, and we see at 70% it reaching the ambient air quality objective threshold. This is at the property line of the project, so the fence line."

Denis Walsh, who has come out against the mine already, disagrees with the report's conclusion that the tourism industry won't be impacted. 

"There's going to be a liability that's hard, I know, to calculate in dollars," he said. "But to say it won't have an impact on tourism, I think it will definitely have some sort of implications that I don't think will be beneficial."

For Ken Christian, one of three current councillors that have been waiting for all the information before making a final decision, he's wondering about meteorological events and how they could create a challenge for KGHM.

"Most of the dust is going to be from fugitive sources, and that would be exacerbated by meteorological conditions," said Christian. "So I'm wondering about the ability to have some certainly when we really don't know about the wind."

The next step now is a consensus decision from council on its position, one way or the other on Ajax. That will come July 17 at the next council meeting --- a position that will then be forwarded to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. 

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