The new superintendent of the Ajax mine project south of Kamloops said owner KGHM International is reviewing a study conducted into contamination of Peterson Creek by the former Afton mine, on which Ajax is proposed to be built.
Meanwhile, resubmission of an environmental application to restart the mine project has not yet been decided, though Ajax superintendent Michal Wypych said the company is “reviewing the path forward for the project.”
Wypych said specialists are looking into a report by Kevin Morin, who was hired by the Kamloops Area Preservation Association, that determined contamination of Peterson Creek by mining-derived elements.
Peterson Creek is downstream from the old Afton mine, which, according to Morin, has highly reactive remnants still onsite, leaching into the waterway and leading to levels of arsenic, selenium, uranium, molybdenum, copper, sulphate and nitrate that exceed B.C. Water Quality Guidelines.
Wypych called the review a “first step.” The company will decide, based on that review, what needs to be done, he said.
The superintendent was also asked for an update on the Ajax mine project that has been rejected by provincial and federal governments, in December 2017 and June 2018, respectively.
The project needs approval from both levels of government t proceed.
KTW earlier reported KGHM International and junior partner Abacus Mining and Exploration Corporation intend to resubmit an environmental application to restart the mine project.
In a newsletter to investors last month discussing the hiring of Wypych, Abacus president and CEO Paul Anderson said Wypych will focus on First Nations and community and governmental engagement to advance the project toward resubmitting the application to government.
Asked if KGHM is resubmitting an environmental application for the Ajax proposal, Wypych said: “That definitely has not been decided yet. We are reviewing the path forward for the project. We don’t have definitive plans now and we’re trying to develop those now. We’ll share those when we have more information on them.”
Asked if it is a possibility, Wypych replied: “It is always a possibility.:
He added that he cannot speak to the matter without the appropriate information and could not say when that time would be.
Wypych is based in Kamloops. A staff member of the original defeated Ajax mine project, Wypych said he rejoined in August. The company is not hiring anyone else right now, he said, but is looking to re-establish an office “at some point in the short term.
“Right now, everyone is working out of their house,” he said.
As for others in town working on the project, Wypych said: “We’ve got a few ranch folks that work at the Sugarloaf Ranch and they’ve been here basically the whole time. They do, I guess, work out of the ranch side, but that’s about it.”
The copper and gold mine project is co-owned by Poland-based KGHM and Vancouver-based Abacus, KGHM owns 80 per cent of interest in the project and Abacus owns 20 per cent.
Had it been approved, the mine, roughly two kilometres from Aberdeen, would have operated for about 23 years. The operation would have processed 65,000 tonnes per day, producing 109-million pounds of copper annually and 99,000 ounces of gold.
The company stated construction would have created 1,800 temporary jobs during its 2.5-year build-out phase and 500 full-time positions once operational.
Local First Nations were and remain opposed to the proposed mine, with the Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwépemc Nation, which represents the Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn First Nations, citing the project’s impacts on Jacko Lake, which it considers an important cultural heritage site.