First Nation-led environmental review panel rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops, B.C. – by Maryse Zeidler (CBC News British Columbia – March 4, 2017)

Controversial $1.3-billion project has residents divided

The Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation has rejected a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine south-west of Kamloops, B.C., after its months-long review of the project. The decision could be an important upset for KGHM International, a subsidiary of Polish company KGHM Polska Miedźthat, which has been trying to push the controversial $1.3-billion project forward since 2006.

According to the company’s website, the Ajax Project is the first in B.C.’s history that was required to prepare a First Nations consultation plan as part of its environmental assessment process.

The panel’s decision was announced Saturday afternoon at a ceremony at the Moccasin Square Gardens in Kamloops, with about 200 people in attendance. The First Nation said it prefers to protect the long-term health of its traditional territory instead of take advantage of short-term economic benefits.

“The current environmental approval process in British Columbia and Canada uses science but doesn’t take into consideration our traditions and our culture,” said band councillor Janet Jules.

“That’s what we emphasized with our consultations.”

Jules said the land around Jacko Lake, where the mine would be located, holds great spiritual and cultural value for the First Nation. It considers Pipsell, its name for the lake, to be a sacred site.

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