Whatever technological advances may have occurred in the mining industry, some things remain the same, including the huge volumes of water mines use and the World Health Organization designation that mining is among the most polluting of industries.
What has changed are the hiring practices of mining companies. Many mines hire non-union workers. Although wages may be on a par with union wages during high prices, lower prices and compressed profit margins for the company mean wages are fair game for cost-saving cuts, especially in non-union operations.
Foreign worker legislation allowing 15 per cent lower wages to workers is already used by many resource industries across Canada. Hiring foreign workers not only reduces the pay package but it also lessens the likelihood that all those wages will be spent here, so goodbye to some of that anticipated spin-off and hello to a transient population for the local community.
Also, many of the changes in the technology of the mining industry have reduced the number of jobs a mine requires, again reducing the economic benefit to people.
In the case of the proposed Ajax mine, the company has already stated that it will be reducing the workforce at a point in the operation by establishing conveyer systems.
The intermittent operation of Afton in years past is an indication that it is unlikely the promised number of jobs at Ajax will be constant for 23 years.
All of these factors negatively affect the promised economic benefit to Kamloops. We have no guarantees. If the promised number of jobs does not materialize, or if those jobs are paid at rates lower than anticipated, no one is accountable.
We in Kamloops are risking our health, water, air quality and the quality of life yet there is nothing to guarantee the assumed economic benefits. I don’t trust the promises and I find it hard to believe that the proverbial “cheque is in the mail.”