KGHM/AJAX MINE PROJECT
The Ajax mine project is the most pressing issue currently facing the Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society. We have serious concerns about the proximity of this proposed project to the 90,000 citizens of Kamloops. We have not been able to find an example of another mine of this size and scope that has been given a permit to operate in such close proximity to a large population base in Canada.
- The project has the potential to impact the air quality, water quality, quality of life and the health of the residents of our valley through various mechanisms.
- The proposed project is a large open-pit copper/gold mine. Essentially this means that the mine would be a large hole in the ground, surrounded by piles of "waste rock" and "dry stack tailings." The "waste rock" is the rock that has to be moved to allow access to the ore.
- The proponent plans to reroute part of Peterson Creek and create a berm that would allow them to drain part of Jacko Lake. The proposed pit would be adjacent to the remaining parts of Jacko Lake.
- The mine is composed of "low grade ore" which essentially means that there would be a lot more "waste rock" than there would be if the ore was higher grade. In this case, they plan to process 60,000 tonnes of ore per day. Because they have to blast and move a lot of rock to get this ore, it has been estimated that the average amount of rock that would be blasted and moved would be approximately 257,000 tonnes per day.
- The mine would have a huge footprint. It would cover approximately 2500 hectares/6000 acres. The pit itself is planned to be 2.5 kilometres long, 1 kilometre wide and 500 meters deep. The waste rock piles are planned to be 1.5 km x 1.9 km x 100 m high and 1.9 km x 2.3 km x 140 m high respectively. The tailings storage facility would also be very large at an estimated 3 km x 1.4 km x 150 m high.
- The waste rock and ore stock piles would be within 1.5 kms of the existing residential neighbourhoods of Aberdeen and Pineview Valley. The pit is estimated to be about 3 kms from the same neighbourhoods.
Many issues have been identified with other open pit mining operations. Many open pit mines have had problems with acid mine drainage, water contamination. Dust and diesel emissions contribute to air pollution, and the many trucks, crushers, conveyors and plant activities can lead to noise pollution 24 hours per day. Blasting is planned to happen once per day and would be a source of noise, dust, vibration and a "blast plume" that can contain explosive byproducts.
Please see the following links for information about the health issues that have arisen at a mine in Peterborough for an example of the kinds of issues that can arise in open pit mine operations:
For more information about the proposed Ajax project you can find the proponents feasibility study at: http://www.ajaxmine.ca/pdfs/Ajax_Feasibility_Study_43-101.pdf