A scientist warned Tuesday the proposed Ajax mine won’t only change Kamloops’ reputation, it will change the city’s weather.
Robert Schemenauer, a former Environment Canada scientist who lives in Kamloops, appeared as a delegation to City council.
Ajax mine will result “in a massive release of particulate matter,” said the expert in atmospheric physics. Some of that particulate will be dust and some will be water from evaporation.
The mine is expected to pull about the same amount of water from the Thompson River system as the current City water plant.
There is zero discharge of that water, so Schemenauer it has no place to go but the airshed.
“It’s going into the air. You will have increases in humidity. When it’s cold you’ll have fog,” he said.
Schemenauer — who has submitted detailed questions and concerns to the comprehensive federal-provincial environmental assessment — noted frequent incidents of high-elevation fog in winter in Aberdeen and Pineview Valley, something any resident can attest to.
“We already have the conditions… .(With Ajax) those frequencies will increase.”
That fog and haze has the ability to block between one and five per cent of the solar radiation in Kamloops, he estimated.
Kamloops council passed a resolution seeking assurances the provincial and federal environmental offices are studying Schemenauer’s concerns.
“The question is: is it part of the stack of questions that will be answered?” asked Mayor Peter Milobar.
Coun. Donovan Cavers, an outspoken Ajax critic, said the information is crucial to understanding the proposed mine’s impact.
“We all know climate is the main reason people choose to live and stay in our city. If there’s any chance it will be affected there’s a huge concern.”
Schemenauer noted prevailing wind patterns will push particulate and humidity toward Kamloops, including the entire city as well as north up the valley.
He also recommended the province study downstream areas of currently operating copper-gold mines in this province in order to better understand composition of particulate. Presence of mercury is one of the concerns.