Band raises scrutiny on mine

Kamloops Daily News
November 14, 2012 01:00 AM

Unlike Ajax, most in Kamloops have never heard of Yellowhead Mining Inc.'s Harper Creek copper project.

The proposed mine has many similarlties with Ajax in Kamloops. Both are similar in tonnes per day milled as well as 20-year-plus forecasts on mine life.

Both entered the harmonized federal-provincial comprehensive environmental assessment process at the same time.

There are key differences, however - the largest being proximity to a major population. While Harper Creek is within commuting distance to Clearwater and Vavenby, it is not as close to a major population centre as Ajax would be.

Ajax has attracted more than 1,300 public comments, Harper Creek just a handful.

The provincial government has been silent on Ajax, fearing opponents may turn their wrath on government if it is seen to be a cheerleader.

In contrast, Premier Christy Clark told a Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting this year that her government was committed to bringing power up the valley to feed the proposed Harper Creek mine.

While Ajax is bogged down in the environmental assessment, due to high public interest, Yellowhead Mining hopes to have its application to government within months.

With the stage set, Simpcw First Nation held an information picket last week to air its concerns with the project.

The band is not anti-mine, but it is also not a cheerleader.

Leaders compared their stance to the way Clark's government - with Environment Minister Terry Lake as lead minister - is treating the proposed Enbridge pipeline.

Using Clark's own rhetoric, a band manager said residents of the area are taking all the risks, with profits going to shareholders. Both want the highest environmental protections before the project is allowed to proceed.
While Harper Creek is obviously more distant from Kamloops than Ajax, it poses environmental risks, particularly with regard to its tailings dam.

Harper Creek is located in a rainy area where leachate carries a higher risk of occurring.
With its action, the band has been successful in raising awareness.

When company's application is made public, residents of this city and the region should give it scrutiny to ensure concerns are addressed and the trade-offs are worth the environmental price.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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