Ajax mine public relations officer Norm Thompson took it on the chin at Thompson Rivers University on Sunday during a forum discussing the open pit gold-and-copper project proposed within Kamloops city limits.
It was another packed house at the TRU Clock Tower auditorium for the second of three forums held by TRU Faculty Association's human-rights committee. And the audience seemed just as hostile to the project as it was during the first gathering in early September.
However, this time the proponent had a voice, but Thompson's lack of answers only appeared to further rile the audience.
Thompson, who volunteered to present proponent KGHM's case at the forum, opened with a 10-minute presentation reiterating the well-known aspects of the company's plans.
In followup questions, he was unable to say what will happen to the 450-metre deep pit after mining is complete, other than "at the moment" the company is "not planning to fill it up."
He couldn't say how much money would be set aside for post-project reclamation, however, he said the company is negotiating with the government over a required bond.
He couldn't say what taxation benefits Kamloops would receive since there's still some discussion around what portion would fall within city limits and what would cross Thompson-Nicola Regional District lines.
And he couldn't say how long it would take to get those answers.
But once the application is complete and sent to the Environmental Assessment Office, impact on air, hydrology, geography, reclamation and similar details would be cleared up.
Kamloops Coun. Donovan Cavers wondered why the company doesn't release information as it comes in.
"Ten years is quite a long time and you still don't have these answers. It's alarming to a lot of people," he said.
"If you want the correct information, the detailed information, you have to be patient," said Thompson.
Jason Brown, Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association president, moderated for organizer professor Derek Cook who had fallen ill.
After a particularly bitter challenge from an audience member who resented sending raw resources to China only to buy it back refined, Brown reminded the crowd to remain cordial.
"Let's not have a battle," he said.
Brown went on to ask Thompson why Ajax didn't send experts to the forum to answer questions.
"We are still working on developing the studies," said Thompson. "We haven't done our detailed analysis, we haven't done our detailed engineering, we haven't done our detailed construction."
Another member of the audience asked how the company can be so sure of financial figures in that case. And how is he so certain the number of full time permanent workers the mine will employ after construction is 565 - a number that has grown from past figures of 385 and 490.
"My manager tells me that that's the number we should be quoting today because most mines of this size and this nature are producing 60,000 tons a day are about 565 employees," answered Thompson.
He added that as a longtime member of the community, he is working with the company to ensure Kamloops and its environment is not adversely affected by the project.
Brown thanked Thompson for facing the tough crowd.
"It's nice to have the dialogue even if people aren't entirely satisfied with the answers today."
The third forum of the series happens Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. with guest speaker Alain Deneault, author of Imperial Canada Incorporated.