Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ajax Mine - Response to Kamloops Strong & Klean

Since the Ajax Mine proposal was introduced into the Kamloops narrative the “NO” side has been extremely vocal; to their credit many have spoken out clearly on what they believe and valid points have been made. Many on the other hand have engaged in rhetoric that is as hyperbolic as it is inaccurate; that is where I have been challenged with the discourse. I am unsure how the numbers shake out for or against, but it was my perception many in the business community want it and remain “silent” to avoid the ire of the no side.
The British Columbia mining industry has been a very successful industry when benchmarked to world standards. The mining act and accompanying regulation are very sensitive to environmental concern. I am unsure how you define self-regulated? I think the fact that there are provincial inspection personnel and requirements for a plethora of government personal to oversee the creation and operation of a mine suggests government oversight. The Prosperity mine invested in the neighborhood of $500 million in processing their application only to have it refused.
Mining is a provincial jurisdictional concern; this has been the case since we joined confederation. We need to ensure that we retain the right to manage our own backyard. The last thing we need is to have another layer of government impairing us from doing what we want, people turn to extra review processes to obstruct rather than seek rightful process. I know you’re in the real estate business, look what is required for a subdivision, mines are much more difficult to process. The environmental processes in place now are effective and for the most part the industry has an excellent track record.
One takes your point regarding image for the city, the fact is we had Afton operate for years and hardly knew it was there. The reclamation work done at Afton is excellent, and with new technologies and planning for the future, we could do a better job.
It helps some times to begin with the end in mind - imagine if you will a time line requirement of, say, 25 years, from the beginning of mining to full extraction of all valued minerals; at the close of mining activates the city can plan for a residential development to replace the mine site. With this in mind, a model residential development site could be part and parcel of the mining process. So rather than a rectangular pile of rock as a tailings pile, the site could be sculpted perfectly to suite residential lots. Lots, with the perfect southern exposure, a sculpted lake, a geothermal complex for community heating and perhaps a nine hole executive golf course. The point here is, that what some perceive as destruction can be managed to provision a superior outcome if that outcome is planned for. I offer the residential development for thought, only because, that is what likely would have happened anyway.
It is about a hell of a lot more than “Jobs”, it is about providing lives for young families – in Kamloops we under perform in providing strong employment for young people. I frequent a fast food restaurant because it is the only one open at 4 am, the caliber of young people there in the middle of the night tells me we have to do better. I can assure you, if we are aggressive in holding the mining company to account, if we instate a long term operating agreement that protects our interests and we narrow the extracting window, we can have the prosperity from the mine AND something of value at the end.    
Thank you for taking an interest in the issue, it is an important one.

Additional Comments

Mount Polley was a unfortunate occurrence, it was also anomalous. The vast majority of the 1000s of tailing facilities used over BC history have been sound and well engineered. With respect to Ajax, the sensitivity to the issue is higher now than before and the lay of the land is different - the tailing facility offers very little risk. I would never suggest anyone trust anyone with important interests, that is why since the proposal first came to my attention I advocated for a long term operating agreement between the mine and the city, so the city could hold in effect a operational veto should agreed practices be breached. I am unable to speculate on what Kelowna might do, what is relevant to me is whether we can extract the benefit from the operation for the region, have an agreeable circumstance through as limited operating duration as possible and be left with an asset - I believe we can. We need to be aggressive in seeing to our interests.

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