Location, not mine itself, is the problem
Reviewing public opinion on the Ajax mine proposal, it is remarkable how polarized our community has become.
Then there are those still sitting on the fence, apparently waiting to see which way the wind is blowing (usually prevailing from the southwest, which is bad news for our city).
The opinion expressed in Les Evens’ letter of June 21 (‘Kamloops could learn something from Kalgoorlie’) is, however, a bit off the mark.
Comparing Kamloops to Kalgoorlie, Australia, is invalid.
For starters, Kalgoorlie was founded on mining in the 1890s and, to this day, mining remains its lifeblood. Without mining, Kalgoorlie would be a whistlestop on the Indian Pacific Railway as it crosses the Nullabor Plain.
The development of a large open-pit mine alongside the town is to more efficiently exploit the ore deposit and is a natural progression of its major economy.
Kalgoorlie, with a population of 33,000, is little more than one-third the size of Kamloops and cannot be described as a major urban centre.
Kalgoorlie’s climate is much more desert-like than ours and the region is devoid of attractive natural lakes. If you lived there, you would probably welcome any hole in the ground that could accumulate water over time.
To suggest the mined-out Ajax pit would eventually become a usable, attractive recreation area surely must be intended as a joke. If not, then consider what this would eventually look like.
The pit slowly fills with water to a certain level, leaving precipitous sides, useless for revegetation, recreation or real estate.
The old Bethlehem pit near Highland Valley Copper will give some idea of what to expect.
It’s not a matter of Kalgoorlie learning to get along with its mining neighbour; it’s part and parcel of who they are.
Take the mine out of Kalgoorlie and you fold up the town, but take the mine out of Kamloops and I think we still have a future.
That said, the mining industry is hugely important to this province, generating a lot of the taxes necessary to support health care and education.
If the proposal was 25 or 30 kilometres down the road, I may even support it.
It is just inappropriate to be considered so close to an existing urban centre. If it were similarly situated on the outskirts of Kelowna, Vancouver or Victoria, would it be still on the table?
The longer this proposal is entertained, the greater the risk becomes of having to compensate the proponent if it is denied.
If this happens, guess who gets to foot the bill?