Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq Rejects Federal Review Panel on KGHM Ajax Mine

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on February 24th, 2014 4:02pm

The Prosperity Mine near William's Lake was approved by the povincial assessment, then it was rejected by a federal review panel... then after Properity resubmitted, the federal review panel rejected it again! Perhaps that is why so many are concerned about this provincial assessment that the KGHM Ajax mine is going through?

Here's the response from the Minister for you to review.



Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s denial of Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar’s request for a federal panel review for the proposed Ajax mine in Kamloops, British Columbia, is an insult to the citizens of Kamloops, according to KAPA spokesperson, John Schleiermacher.

“Aglukkaq’s Feb 7, 2014 letter to the City of Kamloops states that the factors examined in the current environmental assessment for the mine is the same as a panel process.” “It is not even true, as the Minister contends in the letter, that the current assessment process and a federal panel review look at the same factors,” Schleiermacher points out. “We have already found that the current process to date has ignored questions put forth by the BC Centre for Disease Control, and there is no guarantee that these questions will be addressed in the current process. In contrast, these questions put forth in a federal panel review where public hearings are held would be much harder to ignore,” Schleiermacher points out. 

Currently, the Ajax open pit copper-gold mine proposal located partly within and immediately upslope and upwind of Kamloops, a city of 90,000 people, is only subject to a provincial environmental assessment and a federal comprehensive study.  Mine projects with far lesser community impacts have received the top-level environmental assessment available in Canada, a federal review panel, a group of experts appointed by the federal Minister of Environment, and operating at arms-length from the federal government.  The Marathon open pit copper and metals mine proposal, 10 kilometres from Marathon Ontario, a mine that is only one-third the size (22,000 tonnes of ore per day versus 60,000 tonnnes of ore and 120,000 tonnes of waste rock per day for Ajax), one-half the life-span (11.5 years versus 23 years), and only affecting 3,863 people, received a federal panel review. Why is it that the proposed Prosperity Mine, which is located in the wilderness, received two panel reviews, while a mine like Ajax, which will be a major source of air pollution for a city of 90,000, gets a second rate, paper shuffling review?” Schleiermacher asks.

The Kamloops Area Preservation Association believes that the Ajax mine needs to be subject to the same level of scrutiny and opportunities for public participation.  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency notes that the essential difference between the current second-tier level of environmental assessment for the Ajax mine and a federal panel review is the feature of “Extensive public participation”.  As the CEAA states:  “in panel reviews, members of the public and local government may participate to identify issues that need to be addressed and may appear before the panel in public hearings to present their evidence, concerns and recommendations.”

In addition to a less meaningful level of public participation, the current environmental assessment process will be conducted almost entirely by a working group, consisting mainly of provincial government employees who also have other job responsibilities.  In contrast, a federal review panel not only is comprised of experts in various fields, but the panel also has a budget to hire additional expertise to assist in its work.  In 2011, the provincial assessment for the Prosperity Mine proposal only found one “significant adverse effect” of the proposal.  When the same project was studied by a federal review panel, this panel found eight other significant impacts.  The provincial assessment process held only 3 two hour “open houses”, while the review panel held hearings for 30 days.  Will the people of Kamloops suffer from the same lack of environmental assessment and inadequate public participation? Are the people of Kamloops second class to Marathon Ontario and Williams Lake BC? 

For further information, please contact John Schleiermacher, 250-374-7431.


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