A Concerned Citizen's Research into the Proposed Ajax Mine

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on February 11th, 2013 7:35pm

The following email was sent to us by a concerned citizen who decided to do his own research into the mine after reading so much about the debate. As we encourage all of you to do, he spent hours reading and researching the mine, KGHM, and the province online and sent the following letter in to us, and graciously gave permission to post it here.    

I obviously had some concerns about the Ajax mine and decided to weigh those concerns against the proposed economic benefits. Since I am not really the type of person to take anybody’s word without some foundation I did my own research into the project. (actually 22 hrs. yesterday)

Although not currently a resident of Kamloops I have very strong ties to the community and I will be returning next year.

The technical and pollution concerns are obviously there but my assumption was that mining operations had advanced and a cleaner product was now available. The only thing the mining companies have excelled at as far as I can see is the public relations campaign and garnering government support as easily as in any third world country.

After reading the Auditor General’s report on oversight, I followed the trail to the EAO and their pledge to put in a Director of Policy and Quality Assurance. True to their word they did just that.

According to the Executive Organizational Chart for the Environment Assessment Office 2013/14, Michelle Carr, Executive Director of Policy and Quality Assurance, reports to Dave Nikolejsin (Associate Deputy Minister). She has six policy advisors reporting to her and three people whose titles include the word compliance, one of whom is an intern and also acts as a community liaison. Michelle Carr was previously in the tourism ministry.


The Canadian Record on the environment vs. Government Reports


Canada’s overall performance, compared to 28 other industrialized nations, is second to last, better only than the United States. Read the above noted report in its entirety to get the full perspective and methodology. The Fraser Institute is politically described as conservative and right-libertarian, for those thinking I am on some sort of a radical left wing rant.

When the governments at either to federal or provincial levels are giving their assurances as to environmental impacts we need to consider a few points:

·With their funding cuts to the related departments, how do they plan on getting the proper certificates in place?

·Assuming the certificates are granted; how to they plan to ensure compliance is being met at every level?

·With the current focus on economic issues being at the forefront of policy decisions with both the federal and provincial governments and the battling of deficit and debt concerns, what guarantees are being put forward to prevent further cuts to environmental departments?

These are questions that must be answered fully in order for the community to even begin to have any faith that environmental departments are meeting the mandates set out. Since the projected time on the life span of the mine is 23 years all of these assurances will have to be put into some concrete law that will cover that project time.

KGHM as a Company: 

The Polish government is in a major cash crunch as is most of Europe. One of the measures they have taken was to impose a progressive tax on copper. KGHM, the largest copper producer in the country will see it’s tax obligations to the government take a huge jump. While they were paying a token $1us/tonne (approximated for currency conversion)  the new tax will take them to $42us/tonne and through a complicated tax planning could go higher depending on the world price of copper.

To further complicate KGHM’s position in Poland, the government owns 31.8% share of the company. With the government owning nearly one third of KGHM and the government being responsible for environmental oversight there could be a perceived conflict of interest. Based on overall pollution ratings in Europe, Poland has one of the worst environmental records.

Not surprisingly, KGHM is actively pursuing mining opportunities outside of Poland which would allow for both reduced taxation and greater return to its shareholders. With the Polish Government holding a 31.8% share of the company it has a strong vested interest in assisting KGHM in any matters related to communications with other governments to help smooth the way for a favourable ruling.

In terms of business ethics; to coin an old phrase, “You can judge the character of the man by the company he keeps”.

While they certainly are in the company of some incredibly wealthy corporations, the environmental records of these companies can not be overlooked.

Sumitomo Mining is directly involved in joint ventures with KGHM among many others. Sumitomo has a spotty record, at best, when it comes to stewardship of the environment in projects in which they are involved. 



Both companies are members of ICA Copper Alliance along with such notables as Los Pelambres (Luksic Family) mining in Chile. The link below is a must read. The corruption on the environmental law suit against them reads like a bad novel.


Governments come and go as do politicians. With an election pending in May the citizens of Kamloops better have a very clear handle on how the politicians will be positioning themselves on the issue of Ajax mine and its commitment to environmental issues. There is a lot of money to be had from Kamloops in the coming years if the mine goes ahead and the only thing the government will have to do is sacrifice the health of the 87,000 residents of Kamloops. If you think that overly callous or cynical just try to name something a politician cares about more than money and power. The key thing to find out, if possible. is the royalties that are going to be paid from the mine. Once this figure is known the motivation of allowing the mine will become self evident.  


leonard Hemming on 2013-02-11 22:31:01

In my opinion this is an excellent article for consideration by Kamloops residents. It should be published in the Kamloops News, and the Vancouver Sun.I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed,and the facts presented.

frannie on 2013-02-12 01:47:53

Thank you for doing all this work to get more needed information on this mine disaster! Every citizen of Kamloops needs to read this. Is there any way you can get a newspaper to publish this? Or are they all too corrupt to print the truth?

Sandi Mikuse on 2013-02-12 10:56:35

Very well said! Thank you!

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