USA Doctors and Moms Say: "Learn From Our Mistakes - Kamloops Ajax Mine a Public Health Disaster in the making"

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on March 13th, 2013 5:49pm

For immediate release

March 12th, 2013

The British Columbia community, Kamloops, is fighting a proposed open pit copper mine, similar to Salt Lake City’s Rio Tinto’s Kennecott mine. In doing research on the impacts of mining on public health, Kamloops mom, Gina Morris, came across Utah Moms for Clean Air.


A conversation was started, information shared and a few months later Gina launched the newest chapter of Utah Moms for Clean Air -- Kamloops Moms for Clean Air. 

One of the group’s first actions was to raise money and offer an invitation to Utah Moms for Clean Air and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment to come speak to their community about what it is like to live adjacent to one of the world’s largest open pit mines.

Dr. Moench (with UPHE) discussed the health impacts while Ms. Udell (with Utah Moms for Clean Air) shared with the community what she has learned about the Multinational Mining Playbook – or in other words, the surreptitious strategies used by mining companies such as Rio Tinto to penetrate communities, divide them, and ultimately to get what they want – subsidized access to valuable mineral deposits without paying the true costs of doing their business.

When Ms. Udell described the tactics, such “divide and conquer” and “paving their acceptance with dollar bills” used by Rio Tinto, most of the heads in the audience nodded in unison that indeed these underhanded tactics were already taking place. Ms. Udell then offered a Citizen’s Playbook on how to fight back.

Cherise Udell with Utah Moms for Clean Air along with Dr. Brian Moench with UPHE, arrived to Canada on Saturday and have been on a whirlwind schedule touring the proposed mine site, meeting with impacted community members, doing radio and television interviews, presenting at the Kamloops City Council and offering a formal lecture open to the public on the health impacts of mining and air pollution.

After touring the proposed mine site, Dr. Moench and Ms. Udell were both shocked that the Canadian government would even consider permitting the building of a large open pit mine within such close proximity to the city of Kamloops, which has a population of 90,000 people. The mine, referred to as Ajax, is a proposal by the Polish mining company, KGHM and will be less than 2 kilometers from two elementary schools and thousands of homes. Many of the neighborhoods in Kamloops will have the mine right in their backyard – literally.

Ms. Udell shared Utah Moms for Clean Air’s position on mining, which is “We understand mines provide valuable commodities that the modern world needs. We thus support mining, but only when it is responsibly done. The first question that must be asked then is: will a proposed mine be near a major population center? If the answer is yes, then the project must be shelved and deposits elsewhere should be considered, as there is simply too much unwarranted risk for nearby populations.”

Three days into Moench and Udell’s visit, Ms. Morris of Kamloops Moms for Clean Air, has this to say:

“Our community has been sitting under a silent cloud of tension while a foreign investor has brought its money to everything from our sport teams to our symphony, our film festival, and our boys and girls clubs. Kamloops people are incredibly loyal and live by a “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of mentality and so now many people feel they “owe” the mining company a social license to mine.”

As Cherise spoke about the “play book” that is often brought to communities by industries, the people of Kamloops in attendance, didn’t just nod their heads, they called out loud with resounding voices – it was as if the tension of their silence had been broken and they were being given a chance to publicly voice their doubts and concerns. Cherise and Dr. Moench have opened the lines of communication – in fact, they have blasted it wide open!”

Cherise Udell is now in Vancouver where she was invited by the David Suzuki Foundation to give a talk on the comparisons between the Rio Tinto copper mine in Utah and the proposed copper mine in Kamloops, British Columbia.


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