After an evening with the technical experts at TRU, I am more confused than ever about the proposed Ajax mine.
I have lost enough money on mining stocks to know that very few proposals turn into producing mines. Half a dozen out of a hundred, if all goes well.
My bank manager says not to worry, the mine will never happen. It’s not economic; it’s that simple.
He estimates production costs at $2.80 a pound in a market of over-production, prices falling. An old miner tells me companies are reworking old tailings at a cost of $0.25 to them.
How can a new mine compete with that?
From news sources I learn that KGHM is in financial trouble as it is. Three top officials have been fired. Recently, the company had to borrow money to pay dividends.
Can KGHM afford to make heavy investments here?
From questions on the floor I hear of KGHM having a possible option of going into smelting. The zoning for one apparently is already in place from previous mining.
If the company was operating a mine here, even at a deficit, it would have a strong case to build a smelter, providing that service to other mines as well. Now THAT would pay! It would also represent environmental and health damage far beyond the scope of the mine.
Mr. Lacasse, who represents KGHM, is put on the spot. He is asked “to promise KGHM will never ever build a smelter here.”
His response: “This application does not ask for a smelter.” He reiterates his “zero-harm” mission, even after others loudly point out its impossibility. He is clearly uncomfortable.
His credibility is about zero by now but I strangely admire this guy.
He reminds me of a soldier in battle, head down, bullets flying, marching on. The order has been given, he will march on, no matter what.
I talk to him after the meeting. “The whole thing is a process,” he says “and we are very early into it, there is a long way to go.”
Alas, he is already mired.
If the experts were there to pave the way, no solid road has been laid. In fact, they said they did not know where the road may lead, where they themselves were going with their models.
They had experience and requirements to meet, some educated guesses to go on and they assured us of their commitment to continuously update and improve their models, but part of it was going to be trial and error.
They spoke of “adjustments” and “mitigation,” “like moving the explosive sheds from one place to another.”
No discussion whatsoever on the real question before us — do we need this mine?
Last I heard, Kamloops unemployment was about four per cent. We have a sustainable economy going, with lots of construction — especially in
Directly in its path is the mine, promising lots of noise and dust, vibrations shaking foundations on a steep hillside of loose glacial till, lots of sludge to be added to existing water seepage problems.
We currently have about all the pollution we can handle. Do we need to add a good deal more for less than one per cent more jobs?
Will the added revenue the mine may bring even compensate for the loss of revenue caused by falling property values?
When the mining jobs will be added, how many construction jobs will be lost? To say nothing of the fact that a foreign company is encouraged to just take our ore and leave a huge hole surrounded by slag piles in its stead, guaranteed to add to our problems for decades after they are gone — ore that we could mine for ourselves at a later date perhaps.
Our inheritance is being sold for a a few jobs and a little tax money.