Proponents, foes pleased to see Ajax process near completion

By Jill Sperling
November 21, 2017 - 3:43pm Updated: November 21, 2017 - 5:25pm

KAMLOOPS — 45 days. 

That's how long provincial ministers have been given to decide whether they approve of the proposed KGHM-Ajax copper/gold mine project. 

"It is an important milestone, that we've been waiting for for quite some time, so there's a sense of relief that we've finally got to this point," said project manager Chris Wild. 

Wild says KGHM International Ltd. has been working towards the development of the mining project for around six years. 

On Monday (Nov. 20), the Environmental Assessment Office announced it had completed a review of the KGHM-Ajax application, and had sent a report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. 

"We haven't had an opportunity to get to know the ministers to any great degree because they haven't been in office all that long," Wild said. "Yes, there's a little bit of uncertainty, we don't know how they're feeling about the project because we haven't had that conversation."

Many Kamloops residents and organization have made their opinions regarding the controversial project well-known. 

In March, the SSN voted against the proposed mine, following their own environmental review. 

The City of Kamloops followed suit in July. 

"Obviously our neighbours established that they didn't support the project for a lot of cultural reasons, so part of it was in solidarity with our neighbours," explained Councillor Donovan Cavers. "Obviously there were a lot of environmental and health concerns with neighbourhoods butting up against the project in Aberdeen with it being so close to Pacific Way Elementary School, there were a lot of health concerns, and a lot of question marks still."

The initial application for the project was submitted to the EAO in January of 2016, but the 180 day review process was paused later that year when KGHM-Ajax asked for more time to respond to questions raised by the community. 

"Most of the issues that have come up certainly in our conversations with the city and others have been addressed quite substantially in the initial application and the subsequent responses to the working group and to others, the public and so on," Wild said. "I'm confident that their concerns at least have been addressed."

The project will need to gain approval from both the provincial and federal governments in order to move forward. 

"Hopefully within 45 days we'll know and have some closure on this because it's been kind of a cloud hanging over the city for a long time, since June of 2011," Cavers said, "so it will be nice for all the people who have been involved on one side or the other, for neighbours to be able to come back together, because I know it's decided some people over the fence, so I think the closure that will hopefully come at the end of the 45 days will be a good thing." 

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