The province has killed the KGHM Ajax open-pit copper and gold mine project, primarily due to its proposed vicinity to the city of Kamloops.
In an announcement Thursday, B.C. Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall said the government would not issue an environmental assessment certificate to for the mining project, which requires both provincial and federal approval.
KGHM Ajax proposed a 1,700-hectare mine, located about two kilometres southwest of Kamloops and on the asserted traditional territories of the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation, Ashcroft Indian Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band and Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band.
Through several summary assesment reports, including a joint review with the federal government, as well as submissions from the City of Kamloops and the company, the ministers concluded that the “potential, and in many cases significant, adverse effects of the Ajax project outweighed the potential benefits,” according to a statement.
Key findings from the environmental assessment noted by the ministers include:
- Fifty-three residual and cumulative adverse effects across the five pillars assessed by the EAO (environmental, economic, social, heritage and health) in areas such as air quality and human well-being, Jacko Lake and surrounding area, social and economic valued components, as well as grasslands and ecosystems.
- The conclusion by an environmental assesment that 21 of these adverse effects were of moderate-to-high magnitude.
- In addressing the 21 high-to-moderate-magnitude adverse effects, the environmental assessment had low-to-moderate confidence in its assessment of nine of the effects.
Significant adverse effects to Indigenous heritage and to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.
The close proximity to Aberdeen, a neighbourhood in Kamloops that include an elementary school, was also a concern for the ministers.
Since the mine was proposed in 2012, the project has been met with heavy criticism from local residents and environmental activists.
With files from Kamloops This Week