An underground Ajax? Don't even think about it

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 11, 2018 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — I admire Coun. Donovan Cavers’ open mind but I find his willingness to consider even for a moment another Ajax application simply shocking.

Cavers, who was a steadfast opponent of Ajax right from the start, now says if a proposal was submitted for an underground mine instead of an open-pit mine on the site, he might not reject it out of hand.

He should. The Ajax proposal put Kamloops and the entire Thompson-Nicola through six years of conflict and fear. Theoretically, the company could appeal the government’s decision rejecting it, or submit a whole new application.

Cavers told me this week he doubts an underground mine would be feasible on the Ajax property, but the fact is we don’t know for sure. The New Gold mine 10 km. west of downtown Kamloops began life as the Afton open-pit copper mine.

When Afton’s productive years as an open pit ran out, New Gold Inc. took it over from Teck Resources and developed a block cave mining operation.

That mine, now known as New Afton, has quietly co-existed with the Kamloops region for many years. The reason isn’t simply that it’s underground — even the original open-pit operation was accepted by the community.

The reason is location. New Afton is not immediately next door to a high concentration of population. Neither does it encroach on a popular fishing lake or culturally significant area.

From the air, it is an ugly scar upon the land, but at eye level it’s largely out of sight.

Supposing Ajax went underground. Even underground hard-rock mines have significant dust and air pollution issues, tailing facilities, waste generation, and all the crushing and grinding accoutrements of mining.

No matter what kind of lipstick might be applied to Ajax, it’s too big and too close. Please, please don’t even consider putting us through another six years of stress to find that out all over again.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.