Despite all the money that has been dangled in front of us by KGHM, most people in this city are not going to benefit one iota from the Ajax mine, if it goes in.
But we are all going to have to bear the risks inherent with such a massive operation.
What are the chances that something goes wrong? Nobody knows exactly. Go to the KGHM workshops to see all the possible impacts to the 90,000 people of this city, neatly summarized in tidy charts and tables of standards.
Since KGHM won’t divulge any specific numbers pertaining to this project, let’s imagine, as a positive scenario, that there’s at most a two per cent chance that our groundwater will suffer contamination. Or maybe there’s only a one per cent chance that an errant blast from the mine will damage your house or destabilize the ground under it. Are you cool with that?
Or maybe there’s only at most a three per cent chance that some fish in river will be poisoned.
Worried that your kids will inhale dust that will make them sick? Relax, perhaps there’s at most a 0.1 per cent chance that will happen.
What about the image of this city, and the impact that a bordering 25 square
kilometre industrial wasteland will have on tourism, property values or the ability to attract or retain doctors and nurses?
Nobody knows for sure. The list goes on. If the mine is approved, all of us will live with these additional risks and many more for the lifespan of the mine and beyond. Most of us will get nothing in return.
Should we “ante up” our health, our lives and the future of this city in this high-stakes poker game so that 400 or so “lucky” people can get high-paying jobs?
The question is whether we need to play this game at all.
Finally, should we place our ultimate trust in a company that has stated disingenuously that the Ajax mine will be a “zero harm” facility? Can one reasonably list modern open-pit mining operations among the many harmless activities known to man?
Open pit mining is by its very nature intrusive on the environment.
At the very least, the 10,000 hectares of grassland which the mine will sit on will be destroyed and not likely be rejuvenated in our lifetime.
Should we place our faith in a company which has for the past two years stonewalled on the subject of actual test results and studies done on the Ajax project? If its original application was to have been submitted in September, then surely they must have a lot to say now about studies which have been completed.
Instead of giving real answers to the tough questions, KGHM has engaged in a PR offensive using tactics taken straight out of the mining playbook. They are liberal with their money, but not with what really counts: being open and upfront with the people of this city.
Because of all the additional risks and unknowns this city will potentially be exposed to, with little gain to show for it, the mine proposal is simply a bad idea.
And no matter how many ribbons and bows you put on a bad idea, in the end it is still a bad idea.