Ajax foes want more test blasts
Kamloops’ anti-Ajax activists are calling on the proponents of the proposed copper and gold mine to conduct more test blasting, calling previous efforts “totally inadequate” at predicting the effects of the project on the community.
However, the author of a study the Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA) is using to back up its demand said there is no need for more blasts.
“I do not see the need for more testing. It really will not provide any more information,” Dr. Takis Katsabanis, an associate professor of mining engineering at Queen’s University, told KTW via email.
KAPA spokesman John Schleiermacher said previous blast tests, conducted in February 2011, weren’t representative of what Kamloopsians living closest to the mine would have to live with on a daily basis.
“They did it in the middle of the week, in the middle of the winter, when nobody was around to have a full assessment of what the impact of that blast was,” he said.
KAPA was able to obtain a copy of the Ajax blasting report from the provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
Schleiermacher said it shows the test blast was only a fraction of the size of the blasts that will occur at the site.
He said KGHM Ajax needs to conduct larger blasts that will model “extreme” work done at the Ajax site south of Aberdeen.
He said the company also needs to give the community notice that blasting will occur so people can judge the effects for themselves.
Schleiermacher cited Katsabanis’ report, produced for the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL) at the request of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which he said showed the need for more blasting tests.
“Our experts have identified many inadequacies of this test blast,” Schliermacher said. “So, the EAO is basically going to allow an inadequate test blast.”
But, Katsabanis said his report actually concludes the opposite — that the experiments KGHM Ajax has done provide enough information to predict the effects of other blasting at other locations around the site.
CERL, which did its own review of the blasting data, reached the same conclusion.
“Basing decisions on a single, larger production test blast would serve little purpose,” wrote Bert von Rosen, head of the laboratory’s explosion effects group, in a letter posted on the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office website.
Von Rosen said the computer modelling KGHM Ajax plans to do with its test data “is a credible means of establishing potential hazards to the local community.”
Norm Thompson, community relations manager for KGHM Ajax, said more test blasts could still happen.
“We haven’t ruled out anything at this point.
“We still need to understand the geological makeup of the whole site, and we’re still trying to determine that,” he said.