Facts About The Proposed KGHM Ajax Mine
The dimensions of the proposed mine are staggering, and about half of the development is within city limits.
The footprint of the mine development would be about 2500 hectares ( a little over 6000 acres).
The open pit would eventually be about 2.5 kilometres long by about 1 kilometre wide and 500 meters deep.
Waste rock piles. There would be about 180,000 tonnes of rock blasted and removed every day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. This figure is based on the industry average of 2 tonnes of waste rock for every tonne of ore. The Ajax proponents estimate that they will recover 60 tonnes of ore per day. This will create the need to establish two large waste rock piles, both covering roughly the same area as the pit itself (2.5 kilometres x 1 kilometre). The rock pile to the north of Peterson Creek and east of the pit will be about 90 metres (about 290 feet) high. The second waste rock pile will fill the basin of Wallender Lake, which is on the north side of Lac Le Jeune Road, within the city boundary, just south of Pineview. Both waste rock piles will be of similar size. Both waste rock piles will be a source of dust for many years, carried over Kamloops by the prevailing southwest wind.
The Ajax Tailings Storage facility deals with the waste from the processing facility. The processing facility will pipe the tailings ( referred to by Ajax as dry tailings) in the form of a slurry (thick soup) across Lac Le Jeune Road north toward Sugarloaf Hill, and into an area between Inks Lake and the Coquihalla Highway. The tailings facility itself will be about 3 kilometres long by a kilometre wide. A wall 8 kilometres long and 150 metres high will be built around the tailings. Compare this height to the silt cliffs in Valleyview which are 80 metres high. The tailings have to be kept wet, or covered, to prevent dust from blowing into Kamloops, carried by the prevailing southwest wind.
The tailings will be contaminated with the chemicals used to extract the gold/copper containing ore from the waste rock, and with other metals present in the ore (copper, cadmium, lead, chromium, aluminum arsenic and mercury). The tailings are supposed to remain dry, but should they not, any leakage could be disastrous both for those living below the mine to the south - the ranchers, and to residents the city of Kamloops. If the tailings do remain dry, the prevailing south-west winds will blow the dust from the tailings over the City of Kamloops, and beyond. The Pine View sub-division is only 4 kilometres from the proposed tailings facility. By way of comparison, the Domtar Smokestack is about the same distance from downtown Kamloops.
The water extracted from the tailings to reduce the waste to a slurry will be diverted to Inks Lake, for re-use. This water will also be contaminated with toxic heavy metals. The tailings facility and Inks Lake sit high above Kamloops, and all liquid from that area eventually drains into the Thompson River valley.
The processing plant will be about 1 kilometre from the Aberdeen Highlands residential development, and even closer than that if Aberdeen Highlands development continues to expand, as is planned. The activity around the processing plant is dusty and noisy. 180,000 tonnes of rock per day will be trucked to the processing plant where it is crushed, and treated to remove the copper and gold bearing ore from the waste rock. The waste rock is trucked to the waste rock piles, or sent there by conveyor belts.
Dust is an ever-present factor with open pit mines, and Ajax mine would be no different. Highland valley Copper Mine Recently spent millions of dollars to build domes over the piles of ore which are then concentrated. The wind blowing over the previously exposed piles of ore was costing Highland Valley Copper about $1 million per year in lost revenue. Very expensive dust carried away by the wind.
The noise of drilling, blasting, heavy machinery and huge trucks will create a great deal of noise, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Reclamation. There is absolutely no way that once the mine closed the landscape could be reclaimed to anything remotely resembling its present state. For at least the 23 years the mine operated there would be a huge, barren, dust-producing eyesore partly within our city limits. When the mine closes the mountains of waste rock would remain and reclamation efforts would take many more years to produce enough growth to reduce the dust blown over the city. After 23 years the company would leave, a typical "boom and bust" scenario, so common to the mining industry. What Kamloops needs, and what we support, is a long term strategy which promotes tourism, encourages diversification in local business, encourages the establishment of new, environmentally friendly businsses, and supports the long tradition of ranching in the beautiful grasslands which surround Kamloops. Surely that is a better prospect for our residents and their children than a wasted landscape. These are the reasons that KAPA came into being.
Think about it.