Soils Scientist warns of dangers to Kamloops from proposed Ajax mine

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on July 21st, 2016 4:48am

Thompson Rivers University soil scientist, Kent Watson is warning that the Kamloops neighbourhood of Aberdeen is at risk from blasts and dustfall from the nearby proposed Ajax open pit mine.

In a report prepared for the Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA), and submitted to the BC Environmental Assessment Agency, Mr. Watson noted the existing unstable soils and numerous faults that criss-cross the Aberdeen area, and a major tectonic fault, the Edith Lake Fault Zone which bisects the proposed open pit and tailings area.

Watson’s report raises questions about the effects of shifting hundreds of millions tonnes of rock from one side of the Edith Lake Fault Zone to the other side. “Numerous case studies exist about earthquakes caused by mining,” notes KAPA spokesperson John Schleiermacher. “Will this huge shift in rock mass, plus the addition of hundreds of millions of tonnes of water in the tailings pond, cause sudden seismic tremors? Will these tremors lead to changes in the groundwater movement in Aberdeen, or cause landslides in the instable parts of Aberdeen? And will the blasting along the pit wall between the mine and Jacko Lake open up fractures that will result in a sudden draining of the lake into the pit?” Schleiermacher asks.

“Even KGHM acknowledges the risks involving the Edith Lake Fault Zone (ELFZ) and Jacko Lake,” Schleiermacher adds. “But their consultant only drilled two holes to examine the fault, and concluded that ‘there is uncertainty in the interpretation of the extent, orientation, thickness, and hydraulic properties of the ELFZ’.

In the Ajax Application, KGHM is proposing a ‘follow-up program…designed to ensure an accurate understanding of the connectivity between Jacko Lake and the open pit, as well as confirming hydrogeological assumptions related to the Edith Lake Fault Zone and the Peterson Creek Aquifer.’ “In other words,” Schleiermacher observes, “KGHM admits there are numerous scientific holes in their Application that can only be filled after the fact, after the mine goes into operation and Jacko Lake is suddenly draining into the pit.”

Watson’s report also questions KGHM’s plans to stock pile 54 million tonnes of overburden and silt less than two kilometres from Aberdeen. According to KGHM’s own soil data, Watson calculated that this material will be 47.5% silt, which is highly vulnerable to erosion from the area’s high winds. All of this silt-laden material will be double-handled, and 18 million tonnes will be triple-handled. In addition, 66 million tonnes of low and medium grade ore will also be double-handled.

“Re-handling of this highly silty material involves loading, hauling, dumping and spreading,” Schleiermacher points out. “Most of this re-handling is completely left out of KGHM’s dust predictions. KGHM also left out the silt factor for the topsoil and overburden in their predictions. In one part of the Application KGHM states that ‘The location of the stockpiles as proposed by KGHM, on top of the East MRSF, will result in double handling of the overburden and topsoil material.’ Why is the loading of this material not included in the dust dispersion modeling?”

“KGHM plans to construct a 278 foot high waste rock dump in one of the windiest areas of Knutsford, just south of Aberdeen, and then stockpile highly silty material on top,” Schleiermacher notes. “People in the Aberdeen and Sahali neighbourhoods better get used to washing the dust off their walls and windows on a regular basis if KGHM is allowed to proceed with this crazy plan.”

“Finally, Watson’s report,” Schleiermacher continues, “mentions KGHM’s own soil studies showing levels of boron, chromium, copper, nickel and vanadium are already over the Canadian Council of Minister’s Guidelines for agriculture for some samples. And according to KGHM’s own air quality predictions, the area with the highest mine emissions is near where KGHM plans on stock piling its reclamation material. What are they going to use to reclaim with, if their stockpiles becoming too contaminated from mine emissions?” Schleiermacher asks.


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