Feedback on KGHM-Ajax Open House

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on June 24th, 2014 11:31am

Our protest sign team created a stir at all three open houses, held by KGHM to explain its new mine plan. Many KAPA members talked with the KGHM representatives. Later, a summary of our comments on the open houses was sent to the BCEAO. Here is the summary.

Health Impact Assessment  studies – I spoke with Brian Lees (?), Stantech contractor. I asked him if they have begun baseline studies on human health of the population – i.e. blood tests, hair samples, respiratory health etc. This has not be done, nor will it be done by the company. He says it is not required by the BC environmental assessment process and if we do want to have it done we have to persuade the government that it needs to be done.

 --I asked that question of Bryan Leeves, in regards to health studies. So far they have collected soil and vegetation samples a few years ago. They are not gathering any health data themselves and will rely on BC government collected data.  They are not sure what they will look at for health as they need to wait for air modelling and water .  Will do health risk assessment only. 

--I got exactly the same answer from the two Stantec consultants and Laura Smithies (who showed that she was annoyed with my questions) – when I asked all three of them about a Health Impact Assessment. No, there won't be one done and yes, they are still saying exactly what they said at the last open house – (1) they're here to stay; (2) they don't care how long it takes and (3) they intend to give government exactly what they want. Nothing more , nothing less.

--At the event last night, I asked Mr. Lacasse about the comment I overheard him say to someone that they had some doctors working for them and that they were present.  I asked that he point them out to me.  He brought me to two gentlemen who he described as "toxicologists" (so they are not "real" doctors i.e.- not medical doctors).  I spoke with one of them (I did not remember to write down his name, but I recognized him from one of the information sessions that was held last fall).  The other toxicologist walked away shortly after).

I asked for his comments about the information presented in the flyer created by Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society (KPHES).  He replied that he had not yet looked at the information in any detail.  He shared his opinion that the air in Kamloops is actually fine.  He then went on to educate me about how complex the issue is, how correlation does not prove causality, etc.,  and how it is not scientific to pick certain studies that prove your point and ignore other studies that don't (but careful to say that he does not know if that's what KPHES did).  I shared my view that the flyer was actually very well researched, and I asked if he was aware of any studies that demonstrated no harm is associated with open pit mining.  He could not identify any such studies and continued to say how complex this matter is.  He expressed confidence that the environmental review process will ensure decisions are based on actual scientific evidence.

Air Quality Monitoring stations – the company is collecting baseline data at five stations on its property south of Kamloops. It is partnering with the City of Kamloops to install a station at Pacific Way Elementary, however this has not been done yet because of the teachers' strike. The company will have no other air quality stations within the City of Kamloops or in any neighboring towns. He said this is the responsibility of the government. In the City of Kamloops we have two monitoring stations only – one on the top of the old federal building in downtown Kamloops, and the other in Brocklehurst. I said that we need a monitoring station in every neighborhood in the City of Kamloops as well as outlying communities like Heffley Creek and Chase.  I pointed out that the company's air quality model is only going to be as good as the data collected and that is seriously lacking. Apparently Ralph Adams is the government meteorologist that we should contact him to ask for monitoring stations in every neighborhood.  

Core sample assay results. The geologist that I talked to said he was able to give me the percentages of copper, gold, silica, calcite, etc. in core samples,. He acknowledged that there could be trace elements such as arsenic, lead, etc. but said that detecting and measuring trace elements is a new technology and it takes longer. I asked him how many core samples are coming from the pit. He said 600 core samples. I asked how many labs are assaying the core samples – there are two labs in Kamloops and one elsewhere. I express my doubts that the core sample assays have not been completed and that there must be a problem if the company doesn't want to release the results. He said that they will not release the the sample results until they can create a complete model for the ore in the pit, and that will be in the application in March 2015.  They are presently drilling on Antoniak's property to make sure that there is no ore under the future tailings pond.

Goose Lake Road – Both my husband and I separately asked reps what they are going to do about the break in the Goose Lake Road. They seemed kind of surprised that anybody would be using the road, and that they should create a new road to go around the tailings pond. 

Explosives storage – the new storage depot is going to be located on the north side of the pit right next to the urban growth boundary. I pointed out that this could be a potential hazard for the citizens of Kamloops. The rep said that they've never had a problem, it will be fully safe, etc. etc.

Dust problems.  When I remarked that the location of the pit is the same, only deeper, and that dust will still be a huge issue, Yves Lacasse said that "most of the dust is created by the trucks and that they have moved the truck traffic further away".  I was astonished that he would make such an erroneous statement!

Hand written questions.  When staff couldn't answer questions, we were encouraged to write them, and were promised answers in 2 weeks.  I submitted 2 questions and here we are 3 weeks later, and no answers after 3 telephone reminders.

Water issues.  When I questioned the published information that less water would be required with the new locations, including the wet storage facility -  I was referred to 3 specialists.  They gave me 3 different answers - "less", "the same", and "more".

Mine footprint size. I asked Robin Bartlett (at the end of the room in front of the video) about the size of the new footprint.

Is it larger or smaller, told her I was told the first one was 10 square miles or was 25 sq km?? I forget.

She didn’t know!! 

Smelter.  I was assured  by JP SALLEY that there  will never be a KGHM smelter, nor one where they partner with others.  I asked if I  could quote him on that and he said, '"yes!".  Hmmm...? Also said he knew nothing about another potential pit  or expanded claims, e.g. Galaxy, etc.

Joint Panel Review. I asked Yves Lacasse if he believed calling for a joint panel review would be "the right thing to do".  (Considering the proximity of the mine to such a large population, does it not make sense to have the highest level of scrutiny possible?)  He replied that the decision to support a joint panel review is really a business decision, not one that he would be involved in making.

Production costs. I asked this question to everyone at the Open House without receiving even an attempt at an intelligent response. 

"KGHM's Robinson Mine in Nevada has a grade 50% higher than the proposed Ajax Mine (.40% Cu and .25 gr. per ton AU versus .267 CU and .17 gr per ton AU) yet KGHM claims to be able to produce a pound, less credits, of CU at Ajax at less than half of that of Robinson Mine ($1.28 USD versus $2.76 USD during 1st quarter 2014)"  Production levels, terrain etc. are very similar to both mines when compared to KGHM's other global projects. During 3rd quarter 2013, Robinson cash costs were actually over $3.00 USD.How can you justify Ajax production costs?

The KGHM reps we talked to were polite and patient as we asked them many questions. In the end the message we received, "loud and clear", is that the company is doing exactly what it is required to do, no more, and for everything else they are passing the buck to the government.  


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