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BC rejection of Ajax Mine illustrates why stronger environmental laws needed

Thursday, December 14, 2017

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – West Coast Environmental Law Association is pleased to see today’s announcement that the BC government has refused to grant an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed KGHM Ajax open-pit gold and copper mine. The organization challenges the BC government to strengthen BC’s environmental protection laws to ensure that communities will not, in future, need to fight so long and hard against such a poorly situated mine.

The mine, located within Kamloops city boundaries in the traditional territories of the Stk'emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN), would have posed unacceptable environmental and health risks, and has faced strong opposition from governments and community members in the region. The project was rejected earlier this year by the SSN, who conducted an extensive environmental assessment under their Indigenous laws.

“Rejecting the Ajax mine is the right decision for the environment and communities. Stronger environmental laws would have prevented this ill-conceived proposal from ever making it this far – given its proximity to an urban centre, and the fact that it would destroy a cultural keystone site in Stk'emlupsemc te Secwépemc territory,” said Staff Lawyer Erica Stahl.

“This decision is an important reminder of the urgent need to reform BC’s mining and environmental assessment laws. British Columbians deserve stronger laws and decision-making processes that protect the public interest and uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Communities should not have to fight for years against a mine that poses such significant risks,” Stahl said.

West Coast stands with the SSN in their use of their own laws to determine the future of Pípsell (also known as Jacko Lake and environs), the sacred area threatened by the proposed Ajax mine. West Coast’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund also provided financial support for the Kamloops Area Residents Association (KAPA) to participate in the environmental assessment of the project.

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For more information, please contact:

Erica Stahl | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
604-684-7378 ext. 229, estahl@wcel.org

Alexis Stoymenoff | Senior Communications & Engagement Specialist
604-369-3351, astoymenoff@wcel.org