Letter to Editor, September 1, 2011 from Don Barz

Posted by Don Barz on September 1st, 2011 3:03pm

Editor: Kamloops News:

I am responding to John Froese’s letter of August 13th (‘Ajax concerns call for clarification’) in which he purports to provide clarification of issues I raised in my letter of August 10th (‘Tougher Review Process Needed’).  Froese cites the issues of impacts on water bodies and acid drainage and insinuates that my comments on these concerns need clarification.  A careful review of my letter shows that I made no comments whatsoever on these two issues, so I am not certain what Mr. Froese is trying to clarify. 

But since Mr. Froese of KGHM Ajax has raised these two issues I wish to provide some clarification of my own.

Froese quotes the Knight Piesold Project Description that “no water bodies or perennial or ephemeral streams will be impacted by the (tailings).”  This statement comes from page 40 of the Project Description, which incidentally, he altered by substituting the word ‘tailings’ for the acronym ‘TSF‘ – ‘Tailings Storage Facility’.

This statement may be correct if KGHM Ajax can absolutely ensure that no water or airborne particulate matter from the TSF will ever enter adjacent water bodies or groundwater.  But even if KGHM Ajax could ensure the impossible with regard to the TSF, the fact is that several other mine components will impact water bodies.  A case in point is Inks Lake which the company plans to convert to a “Process Water Pond” to hold effluent extracted from the tailings in the Thickened Tailings Plant.

Froese’s statement: “Further, static testing was carried out as part of the environmental baseline study and the results found the waste rock and ore are not acid generating,” is another example of presenting selective information to mislead the public about the nature of the proposed mine.  This statement is identical to that found on page 43 of the Project Description, except that the reference supporting this statement is excluded.  This reference is: “Golder. 2010. Technical memorandum re: preliminary snapshots of the thickened disposal raising. From: Irwin Wislesky, Golder Associates Ltd.”

Section 16, Mineral Processing and Metallurgical Testing, of the 2009 Preliminary Assessment Technical Report issued by Abacus Mining & Exploration Corp. for the Ajax project states: “Abacus is proposing the mining and processing of 60,000 t/d of a fine-grained porphyrtic hornblende diorite containing copper-bearing chalcopyrite resource material located in the Kamloops area of BC. “

The chemical composition of chalcopyrite as CuFeS2, thus making chalcopyrite a sulphide mineral.  The ore that Ajax will be mining is therefore acid generating.  The Golder technical report suggests otherwise.  But KGHM Ajax has chosen not to release this report, so there is no way for anyone to determine whether Golder’s analysis will stand up to scientific scrutiny (e.g., are the samples Golder tested representative of the relative proportions, particle sizes, oxidations rates and other factors?).

Other information that KGHM Ajax has cited in its project description and has not released include: the Knight Piésold 2009 Hydrometeorology report, and the climate data KGHM Ajax says it has been collecting in the project area since November 2006.  Instead the Project Description (page 30) provides us with the following meaningless statement: “Wind direction and magnitude vary throughout the year.”

Is the withholding of this information an example of Abacus President James Excell’s commitment to “open, honest, transparent communication with the public”, as quoted in the August 18, 2011 Kamloops News during the opening of the Ajax office?

Finally, John Froese implies that the decision to hold a federal panel review will not be made until after the second-rate environmental review that the project is currently receiving is completed.  This is not true.  The federal government can decide at any time to subject the project to its top-level assessment, and the sooner the better.  In fact, a proposed open pit metals mine located 10 kilometres north of Marathon, Ontario (population: 3,863), with daily ore processing of 22,000 tonnes versus 60,000 for Ajax, and a lifespan of only 11.5 years, compared to 23 years for Ajax was designated for a federal panel review on August 9, 2011.  This mine has no where near the potential impacts that Ajax will have on the City of Kamloops, yet for some reason, Kamloops gets a second-rate environmental assessment.

Yours truly,
Don Barz
Kamloops Area Preservation Association


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