What a strange delegation it is that sits down with federal Environment Minister Peter Kent in Ottawa Thursday to discuss a panel review for the proposed Ajax mine.
A Kamloops mayor who opposes such a review, and an MP who also opposes the review, have been assigned the task of convincing Kent that he should order the review.
More precisely, the mayor’s opinion, as he has articulated it, is that it’s too early to ask for the review, while our MP does not think it is necessary at all. She agreed to set up the meeting only because it might give “comfort” to the majority of City council who over-rode Mayor Crankypants on the matter.
With such enthusiasm, how can this pair fail at their mission?
TNRD director Ronaye Elliott and City public works director David Duckworth — who knows a lot about roads, less about mines — will accompany them, so maybe they can be of assistance.
The mayor offers reassurance that “a signal” will be sent. “It’s to make sure the terrain and proximity to things are well understood.”
The mayor is correct when he identifies the key community issues as relating to terrain and proximity, i.e. size.
So just how big is Ajax?
The Stop Ajax Mine website has several maps of the project, including “an interpretive rendering” the Kamloops Area Preservation Association unveiled at a pre-election forum early in November.
Another map, an aerial photo overlaid with the main components of the mine, carries the comment that the “footprint of the mine is bigger than all of Aberdeen, Sahali, Dufferin and downtown Kamloops.”
According to my old eyes, that’s not an exaggeration. Kamloops is roughly 375 square km. including all its outlying areas; the mine is not nearly that but, let’s face it, it’s big.
The north waste rock management facility, for example, at two km. by 1.8 km., would be about twice the size of McArthur Island — including all the fields, the stadium and the Sports and Events Centre — and double the height of the TRU student-residence tower.
The east waste rock management facility would be as wide as the Kamloops Airport runway is long.
Tailings storage, a kilometer wide and 3 km. long, approximates the dimensions of the North Shore, not including Brocklehurst.
The open pit, two and a half kilometers wide by a kilmeter long, would be bigger than the downtown core. When it reaches 500 meters in depth, it will be two-thirds as deep as Mount Paul is high.
That’s a pretty big hole in the ground.
All of which makes for very impressive terrain, and very impressive proximity. The mine operations will, at the least, take up as much land area as the most developed residential and commercial communities of Kamloops. And it will be virtually adjacent to them.
So when people think in terms of Aberdeen NIMBYism, think again. The back yard for this mine will be all of Kamloops.
When a reluctant mayor and even more reluctant MP “send a signal” to the feds, let us hope the impressive mass of this mine proposal, right next door to where the people of Kamloops live, is part of the message.
There can be no more compelling reason for a federal panel review, surely, than that.