An additional public comment period requested by the Ajax Mine community advisory group (CAG) is under consideration, says the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.
Frustrated by a lack of response to letters sent three weeks ago to federal and provincial environment ministers, the 14 groups that make up the advisory group made their request public Tuesday.
They say that the volume of revisions required to the 18,000-page KGHM-Ajax environmental assessment application warrants a second look by the public in order to ensure the rigorous review that was promised.
In an emailed response to a NewsKamloops.com query, the B.C. Ministry of Environment indicated that a second public comment period is on the radar. The EAO is reviewing the request and will provide a written response in due course, the ministry said.
“Although it would not be necessary for both governments to agree on whether to hold an additional public comment period, the Environmental Assessment Office is coordinating with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on the environmental assessment of the proposed Ajax Mine Project to ensure that it is rigorous and comprehensive, and minimize duplication where both practical and appropriate,” the ministry added.
The province also pointed out that it has already extended general provisions for public comment within the Ajax review process due to the high level of public interest in the proposed open pit mine.
Section 16.2 of the Environmental Assessment Act sets out a general policy requirement that at least one formal public comment period of between 30 and 75 days be established by the executive director during an environmental assessment.
CAG members are taking their cue from the “at least” reference in the act, but they had no acknowledgement from government that their request was received.
“It’s just basically been ignored,” said John Schleiermacher, spokesman for Kamloops Area Preservation Association, one of the 14 groups. “That’s not part of a rigorous review in my opinion.”
He estimated that half the community wants to see and comment on how the proponent addresses more than 2,000 submissions on the application.
“We want the public to be part of the process. That’s what we’re saying.”