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We will survive without another copper mine

April 18, 2016 4:43 A.M.

A NewsKamloops editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

ONE OF the common mistakes spread by supporters of the Ajax mine is that if you’re against it, you must be against copper.

And if you’re against copper, well then you must not know how essential it is to everyday life.

Nonsense. Being against Ajax doesn’t mean you’re automatically against mining and certainly not that you don’t understand the importance of copper. There are many reasons to be for or against Ajax. But how can you argue against this mine and not be a hypocrite if you use copper in your home, in your computer, in your car, etc. etc.?

The simple answer is, of course, that you can be against one mine and not others. The world won’t suddenly be short of copper if Ajax is rejected.

World copper production is expected to hit about 23 million tonnes this year. Ajax would produce an estimated 109 million pounds (note pounds, not tonnes) of copper per year, out of an ore production of 65,000 tonnes per day, a small contribution to the big picture.

In the meantime, there are a lot of other copper deposits in the world, in the country and in B.C.

Though Ajax will be big, it’s not as big as many. Seabridge Gold’s KSM project 65 km. northwest of Stewart will produce 130,000 tonnes of ore per day for up to 52 years — 38.2 million ounces of gold and close to five billion kilograms of copper over its lifetime, creating 1,800 construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs.

The new Red Chris Mine near the Alaska border is expected to produce 90 to 100 million pounds of copper and 60,000 to 70,0000 ounces of gold this year from a daily ore production of 30,000 tonnes. It employs 300.

Even closer to home, how about Yellowhead Mining’s Harper Creek  project near Vavenby and Clearwater, with an estimated production of 70,000 tonnes of ore per day — more than Ajax — when it’s up and running? More production and more jobs, and only 90 miles from Kamloops.  It would employ up to 600 during construction and create up to 450 permanent jobs during operations.

In the past few years, eight new B.C. mines have either come on stream or are under construction. Meanwhile, Highland Valley Copper and New Gold are producing away, providing good mining jobs.

The disagreement over Ajax is about many things, but neither a desperate shortage of copper nor a denial of copper's importance is among them.

Got an opinion? Leave a comment here or write to letters@newskamloops.com.

derric, says:
April 21, 2016 09:44am

We the workers of canada want this mine.You sit down all day behind your desk have no clue what work is.If you don't like the mine move out

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Alan Forseth says:
April 18, 2016 03:25pm

Sorry Mel but your comment, "The simple answer is, of course, that you can be against one mine and not others. The world won’t suddenly be short of copper if Ajax is rejected." flies in the face of what is really happening.

Sure like you say, you can be against Ajax but not some other mine; the problem is a minority of people, in any area where resource development is proposed, are simply against ANY development. "Not here but elsewhere" is the cry heard every time.

The bottom line is do we want minimum, or low paying jobs, where people can barely afford to live and sustain themselves never mind a family, or do we want the high paying, family supporting, jobs that come with resource development, that is done in an environmentally safeguarded way?

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Craig Richardson says:
April 19, 2016 10:50am

@Alan Forseth

It's not that some people are against "ANY development", the underlying concern is that it's on the doorstep of a freaking elementary school and a city of 90,000 in habitants. Ask the same people if they are also against HVC/Teck and they'll probably say "who cares, it's 20km from Logan Lake." If Ajax was 20km from Kamloops I'd be all for it, but on our doorstep? No thanks.

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Anna B says:
April 18, 2016 02:14pm

@BILL
you don't get jobs when copper market changes. They are related and connected. That's what you don't get.

Copper market decides if there are jobs or not. Every time there is a low market, there are lay offs and hiring freeze. ask those in Highland Valley Copper Mine and other mines.

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John Goldsmith says:
April 18, 2016 10:21am

No Ajax mine until approved, and copper is selling for over $3.50 a pound and KGHM clears the go ahead to build, maybe by 2025 if all the stars line up, or never, I would bet it is never!
By the way, copper is in an over supply position not unlike oil and gas and is expected to remain so well into the next decade, copper is not a consumable, 85% of all copper mined since the beginning of time is available today for any application that calls for copper.
Last point, KGHM can not compete with the big three producers world wide because of KGHM's capital structure and Polish government ownership.
Those people waiting to get hired on by Ajax will have a very long wait, and if you actually read their documents filed with the BCEAO you will find that the number of jobs going to Kamloops workers will be between 171 to 205 during the 18 year projected life of the mine.
All this in front of us and some people continue to support it, why? The risks associated with it's location to a growing, successful, city ranked 37 th in size by population in Canada is just not worth it. Those people looking to Ajax for employment and economics would be well advised to direct their energies elsewhere, go back to school, move to a mining town etc etc. Maybe moving to a mining town is poor advice, Timmins, Ontario which has been a mining town for decades has experienced a drop in population from 47,000 in 1991 to 43,000 in 2011, a drop of 10%, (numbers round). Now that is sustainability for you!

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Trevor Jackson says:
April 18, 2016 09:53am

Knowing the likelihood of vociferous opposition, why would KGHM decide to develop a major mine on the outskirts of a significant city? Not jobs, but extra profit, by reduction in operational costs due to easy access to roads, rail, water etc., plus convenient 'poaching' of trained employees from other adjacent mines. If they had to factor in the real cost of insuring against disasters and other unacceptable consequences, there would be less enthusiasm by the investors. Instead our governments are willing to have the citizens of Kamloops take on the risks and second-hand costs of this unnecessary project. Shame on them, and the other supporters looking at short-term financial benefits. Development of the site as a 'solar farm' would make more sense, with real long -term benefits.

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Sean Lane says:
April 18, 2016 08:27am

Yup, let the poor people dig it up. They can work under dangerous conditions with no concern for the environment. Besides it is cheaper. Our economy is doing so well, we don't need the work. We'll all get jobs delivering pizzas to people who come here for the hockey games.

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Bill says:
April 18, 2016 08:12am

We don't expect to change copper markets we want the jobs!

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Pierre Filisetti says:
April 18, 2016 06:31am

Dear Mel;
I think you have missed the points from the pro-Ajax side entirely...during the downturn which is killing Kamloops this particular mine will be our savior. The economics are causing HVC and others to lay-off workers which will be promptly rehired by KAM even if ...it is not yet built. Besides there may be a downturn in copper demand and price, however, again because of the global downturn, rich people the world over (you know the tax-evading, self-centered, arrogant 1%-er) are awaiting and already purchasing forward contracts on the vast amounts of gold the Ajax mine will be producing, because you must know all about the story of gold as hedge against starvation and all that confabulation...

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