Government is failing to implement key Mt. Polley Panel recommendation

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on December 2nd, 2015 10:16am

The Government of British Columbia is failing to apply a key recommendation of the Mount Polley review panel in the assessment of new tailings dams in the province.

The Panel recommended that a financial feasibility study be done early in the planning of new mines involving tailings ponds. But according to an email from the government received by KAPA spokesperson, John Schleiermacher, a financial feasibility study is not required for the environmental assessment of the proposed Ajax mine tailings facility, located immediately upstream of the City of Kamloops. The email suggests that such as study may only be required after a review of B.C.’s Mining Code is completed.

KAPA believes that studying the financial feasibility of a project early in the assessment process is critical to good decision-making. “Why go through a costly and lengthy environmental assessment, if falling copper and gold prices mean that this project may be financially compromised?” Schleiermacher asks.

“The environmental assessment is supposed to conduct a complete risk analysis of the project, including the ability of the mine developer to finance any damage caused by mining. This includes the damage that may be caused by the failure of tailings ponds and waste rock piles,” Schleiermacher points out.

“In Kamloops we have a proposed 400 foot high tailings dam and massive waste rock piles in the hills above a city of nearly 100,000 people. A major waste rock or tailings dam failure could devastate Kamloops, so the financial ability and corporate structure of the mining company to pay for damages is a critical issue,” Schleiermacher adds.

“Two years ago, B.C. Supreme Court Justice, Kenneth Affleck, wrote in the Morrison decision that the entire environmental assessment process is a risk/benefit analysis, and the job of the government is decide whether it is in the public interest that the risks are worth taking,” Schleiermacher notes.

“If mine owners protect themselves from liability through a complicated corporate structure, or don’t have the financial ability to pay for damages, it is the public that is at financial risk,” Schleiermacher argues.

“Yet the government repeatedly rejects calls by Kamloops citizens to require the Ajax mine developer to prove in the environmental assessment that it has the financial capability to fund potential mine damages,” Schleiermacher concludes.


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