Is KGHM Polska’s proposed Ajax mine the “thin end of the wedge?” It’s difficult to think of this proposed gigantic mine as the thin edge of anything, but consider the amount of land staked in the vicinity.
It is common knowledge in mining circles that this low-grade copper deposit extends well beyond the proposed site.
A Powerpoint slide from an Abacus presentation to investors has maps indicating plans to expand laterally and at depth. It indicates possible future mining activity that straddles both sides of Highway 5, across Highway 1 and down to the Thompson River. Expansion to that extent would place mining operations across the river from the airport and much closer to Brocklehurst and North Kamloops than is the present proposal.
Expansion of the present Ajax proposal to this extent would effectively wall off the southwestern perimeter of the city and any possibilities of continued growth in that area. The picture of open pits, tailings stacks, and mountains of waste rock surrounding the whole southwest perimeter of the city is horrific.
Of course those subsequent applications for mining operations will also have to be approved. It’s unlikely they won’t be, however, if the Ajax application is approved. It sets a precedent that will be hard to back away from. After all, if you can stick a giant mine inside a city a bit more than a kilometer away from its existing housing in the area designated for its primary growth, how can you deny establishing mines in other parts of this extremely mineralized zone that may extend to every house on the hills of the South Shore, out to Edith Lake and likely beyond?
It also begs the question about any assessment process required of those future mining activities. With government decisions to remove much of what used to be the environmental assessment process what will be left to protect the citizens of this community caught up in a copper/gold rush for huge corporate profits? Would those future mining activities be considered a mere expansion of the Ajax operation if it is approved, and those activities then not be subject to any further examination?
The big question with drilling already underway in the satellite deposits, is when is the next application going to be submitted?