A few dozen residents got up close and personal with the most controversial project in the region on Saturday when proponent KGHM offered the first public tours of its proposed Ajax Mine.
"It's one of those that you can talk about it but until you see it, it puts things in perspective," said project spokesperson Norman Thompson.
Saturday was the first in KGHM's new effort to educate the public during twice-weekly tours.
A total of 23 people boarded KGHM-chartered buses for two 90-minute visits over the weekend.
The event drew "all sorts," said Thompson, from enthusiastic supporters to detractors to the curious. And everyone had questions about the 22-kilometre by 15-kilometre proposal.
The visitors were shown where the plant was going to be, what will happen at Jocko Lake, how big the mine pit is going to be, where the waste-rock pile will be located and where the tailing storage facility will be.
However, all questions can't be answered at this early stage, said Thompson.
"We still need to go through detailed engineering, detailed construction plans, detailed design and that's still in the future so things can change," he said.
"People are asking for the answers before we've finished the studies. And it's frustrating for us that we can't give them the answers because we're still studying everything. But as studies become available we'll be posting them on our website."
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Ajax opponent Tony Brumell offered the public his third tour of the circumference of the site.
On that tour is the Goose Lake Road home of Richard and Sharon Antoniak, whose southern fenceline borders the proposed mine.
The couple allowed Brumell to bring people to their property to show what they believe will be the mine's devastating impact on their lives and all of Kamloops.
"In order to access Goose Lake Road you have to pass between the explosives storage depot and the open pit mine," said Sharon.
"And the government wouldn't think of putting an elementary school in the middle of the access road to the Highland Valley Copper Mine. But the elementary school here is going to be 1.5 kilometres away."
Thompson said KGHM's tours were not intended as a response to Brumell's actions, but was always planned to happen as soon as it was safe enough.
"Part of it was we had drilling programs going up at the site."
Not even City of Kamloops elected officials have been invited to tour the site, according to Coun. Donovan Cavers, who's been critical of the proponent's public-engagement process.
"I just heard about this tour like everyone else would've," said Cavers. "I have taken (Brumell's tour) and I will be taking the KGHM one this week."
A week ago, KGHM also unveiled a long-anticipated model of the proposed mine, which depicts the site as it would look in 2035, a few years before it would be shut down.
Cavers criticized the fact that it took 16 months after first proposing the idea for KGHM to complete the $8,000 model.
"It took an outcry from the public and letters from City council before they did this," he said. "KGHM should be doing everything they possibly can to be as good of a corporate citizen as possible and get as much information as soon as they can to the public. And I just don't see that."
Thompson had no clear explanation for the time it took to build the two-metre by 1.2-metre model, which shows the area from the mine south of Kamloops as far north as the Thompson River.
"It just takes time," he said. "We've done a physical scale model. We're now trying to develop a Google Earth interactive model for people, and that's going to take us another couple of months just to put into it the details that's needed."
KGHM's model was unveiled two days after a local volunteer group unveiled its own two-metre by 1.2-metre model depiction of the site.
From Aug. 13 to 24, the two models will meet when they're set up side by side in the lobby of The Daily News for public viewing during business hours.
The KGHM model is open for viewing at the mine company's office on the 300-block of Seymour Street during weekdays. It's going off-site to Ribfest in Riverside Park on Aug. 10 to 12.