Anti-Ajax protesters shouted down Thompson Rivers University students who crashed a protest rally Thursday in another sign of Kamloops division over the proposed open-pit copper mine.
About 150 people participated in an anti-Ajax rally at the university campus staged on the final of four days of information forums by the mine.
Four students inside a black Hummer festooned with "I Support Ajax" stickers parked at the rally. Later they were joined by a dozen others from a first-year trades class.
"I support Ajax — it's creating jobs," said Gavin Shier, a student taking heavy-duty mechanics.
"It's dumb hearing they don't want it."
Just a handful of people went to Thursday's forum and all four days were lightly attended.
Protesters chanted and also raised the specter the Polish mining giant KGHM has plans for a smelter — something denied by the company.
The rally was held by Kamloops Area Protection Association.
"Every one of us needs to take action," said KAPA director Donna Sambolec.
Protesters carried signs stating "Europe's Premier Polluter" and "Kamloops health or KGHM wealth?"
Speakers raised concerns from the proposed copper mine, including air quality and health risks through exposure to metals.
Two long-time environmentalists, Ruth Madsen and Bronwen Scott, claimed Ajax wants to develop a smelter along with its operation.
"We haven't been able to figure out why a mine with such poor quality ore wants to go ahead with everyone against it," Madsen told the crowd.
The answer, she said, is it plans a smelter and already has appropriate zoning. The smelter would service area mines.
Any industrial operation of that magnitude would require another application, Scott conceded.
"I think as soon as they get this one, they'll apply for another," Scott said in an interview.
She said she confronted a senior Ajax official at a meeting Wednesday evening and he declined to comment on future plans for a smelter
But a company spokeswoman said Thursday KGHM has no plans for a smelter, now or in the future.
"We're not bringing in a smelter," said Robin Bartlett. "We have no plans for it."
Earlier this summer the company said it is looking at expanding its production and moving operations to the south, away from Kamloops.
It doesn't expect to submit its application to the federal and provincial governments until the new year.