Ajax Mine Application in Government Hands
Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on September 30th, 2015 10:46am
From newskamloops.com, Sept 12, 2015
After years of investment, exploration, research and dialogue, KGHM’s environmental permit application is in the hands of government and First Nations, but the company must abide rules of disclosure until Monday.
Word of the presentation is believed to have been leaked earlier in the week as the voluminous documents were being distributed, but the mine proponent is required to ensure all parties have the material in hand before it can comment publicly.
The submission triggers a minimum 30-day application evaluation by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, the primary provincial agency working on the proposal.
That first phase of the review will begin on Monday, Sept. 14, and determines whether the documents — 19 binders in all — meet EAO requirements.
The documents will not be made public until that initial evaluation is complete. It is not uncommon for environmental permit applications to be returned to proponents, sometimes two or three times, with requests for additional information. Only when the application is accepted by the EAO will a 180-day public comment and review period commence.
Ultimately, the decision on whether the copper/gold open pit mine should be allowed to proceed rests with the provincial cabinet and the federal cabinets.
While the City of Kamloops has no jurisdictional or decision-making authority over the proposal, the City has taken great pains to develop a process to ensure there is community input into the comment and review stages, in hope that all local interests would be fairly considered.
Two weeks ago, following a request from City council, KGHM agreed to cover the $300,000 cost of the City’s process.
John Schleiermacher, spokesman for the Kamloops and Area Preservation Association, one of several community groups opposing the project, wasn’t surprised by Friday’s development.
“They didn’t actually submit it,” he said. “They presented it to the provincial and federal environmental assessment offices for review.”
The application goes for intial vetting to the City as well as to the Stk'emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation and a number of government agencies in addition to the EAO at this stage.
“We won’t have a chance to look at it,” at this stage, Schleiermacher said.
That was not the understanding given to the community advisory group when it was set up in 2011. The EAO said then that the community advisory group — comprised of representatives of all community interest groups for and against the project —would be working in parallel with the technical working group.
“We’re quite disappointed that the community advisory group doesn’t have the opportunity to review the application. I thought we would have a shot at it, but apparently we don’t.”
The City’s review process kicks in once the permit application clears the EAO evaluation and will proceed as follows:
• A town hall meeting will focus on a set of questions the City’s consultant is to be asked to investigate. The meeting will then move on for councillors to consider any additional questions the public may want added to the list. Members of the public will be allocated three minutes to put forward their suggested questions.
• A couple of months into the 180-day review period, a special council meeting allows for presentation of the consultant’s preliminary review, allowing for additional public input.
As a follow-up to that open house, a special council workshop will provide clarification of the review.
• A special council meeting will be held prior to the end of a 75-day public comment period. At those meetings, the City’s consultant will present the preliminary response to KGHM’s application. They will be held in a location other than council chambers to allow for adequate seating.
• Around the 135th day of the 180-day review period, there will be an opportunity for council to give its official response to the application.
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