EAO Response to a Complaint Regarding the KGHM Ajax Mine

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on June 9th, 2013 11:33am

The below response is to one of our supporters that contacted the BCEAO regarding recent activity at the proposed Ajax Mine site. The respondent's name has been withheld.   



Thank you for your Wednesday, May 1st email to Scott Bailey of our office regarding the proposed Ajax Project (proposed Project). Mr. Bailey forwarded your email to the EAO Compliance and Enforcement Team, and I will be responding on his behalf.

You are correct that a proposed project must not proceed with construction activities prior to completing the EA process and being granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC), should Ministers decide to grant an EAC, as detailed in section 8.1 of the Environmental Assessment Act.

In response to your complaint I contacted the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Natural Gas, and representatives from KGHM International, the proponent for the proposed Project. The purpose of these enquires was to gather information regarding what activity is currently or has been recently occurring at the proposed Project site, as well as to gather information regarding any existing permits that may allow specific activities to proceed prior to the Ajax project being granted a conditional EAC under the Environmental Assessment Act, should the proposed Project be approved by Ministers.

KGHM International holds a “Mineral and Coal Exploration Activities and Reclamation Permit” (Permit) issued by the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Natural Gas. The purpose of this permit is to allow exploration activities necessary for the characterization of the ore body and sub-surface geotechnical conditions, in order to confirm the location of the ore body and to develop a mine plan for the proposed Project. These activities are necessarily conducted prior to the completion of the environmental assessment, given that the information obtained by these studies is required to sufficiently define the proposed Project for the purposes of conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment.

A number of activities are covered by the Permit, including:

  • Mechanical trenching and digging of test pits to facilitate geotechnical investigations;
  • Surface drilling;
  • Construction of settling ponds and sumps; and
  • Construction and modification of exploration access roads.

Representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Natural Gas confirmed that the activities you identified in your email were consistent with the specific activities allowable under the Permit. In addition, they noted that inspectors from the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Natural Gas are at the proposed Project site regularly to ensure that the works undertaken are consistent with the requirements of the Permit.

In addition to gathering background information and consulting with the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Natural Gas, I conducted an inspection of the proposed Project site on May 13th against section 8.1 of the Environmental Assessment Act to confirm that no construction activity was occurring. My observations were that all the activity onsite was consistent with the Permit issued to KGHM International. I also noted that at that time most of the drill pads and excavations had been reclaimed by filling in all excavations, recontouring the ground to match the surrounding topography,  and seeding.

I also viewed the location of the grass fire you noted in your email. I understand that this was accidentally set by a contractor working on the exploration program on April 4th, 2013. The fire was approximately 4 ha in size, and was responded to and extinguished by the company with the assistance of the Kamloops Fire Department and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. I have been provided an incident report regarding the fire.

KGHM International reports that they are not undertaking any works associated with transmission line construction, however they note that BC Hydro is working on their facilities east of Kamloops. I did not see any evidence of brush clearing or other activity connected with transmission line construction during my inspection. If you have any additional information regarding project related transmission line construction, please feel free to forward to me.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. Alternately, you can contact EAO’s compliance manager Autumn Cousins at 250-888-2020, or Autumn.Cousins@gov.bc.ca. In addition, please contact Joe Seguin, Regional Director, Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Natural Gas at 250-828-4448, or Joe.Seguin@gov.bc.ca if you have questions or concerns specific to the exploration permit issued to KGHM International.


Chris Parks 
Environmental Assessment Compliance Officer
Environmental Assessment Office 
Tel: 250-387-0295


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