City representatives met in Victoria Tuesday with Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett to discuss the Ajax Mine project.
Mayor Peter Milobar said they updated Bennett on the city’s resumption of discussions toward a community benefits agreement with mine proponent KGHM.
The meeting was probably the highest priority for Kamloops among the countless discussions taking place through the week at the UBCM annual convention in Victoria, the mayor said.
“We wanted to make sure that the minister was aware that talks had resumed,” Milobar said. “I think it’s safe to say that he was happy to hear that.”
If the mine is granted an environmental permit, it’s important for the City to know how it can function, he added.
Milobar said he and Coun. Dieter Dudy, who are negotiating the community benefit agreement with KGHM officials, met two weeks ago with the company.
While talks with the City have resumed, the key question of whether the mine’s environmental permit application will be approved remains unanswered.
The review, “paused” in spring to allow KGHM to prepare its responses to more than 2,000 questions and submissions, remains on hold.
B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, the lead provincial agency dealing with the application, won’t be restarting the 180-day review time frame until it’s satisfied with those responses.
Community benefit negotiations with KGHM began this spring, but the company withdrew in April, citing opposition to the proposed copper/gold open-pit mine by some members of City council. The abrupt withdrawl caught the City by surprise, but a week later the two parties agreed to get back to the table. Then, a little over a month later, KGHM project manager Clyde Gillespie, the company’s top manager in Kamloops, was dismissed after two years.
Gillespie filed suit against his former employer last month, claiming wrongful dismissal.
In Victoria Monday, Milobar took part in a workshop on tent camps, which was an opportunity to learn how municipalites are managing the most visible element of homelessness in other B.C. communities, he said.