Shares of Abacus Mining & Exploration Corp. [AME-TSXV] took a big tumble Friday December 15 after the company said British Columbia will not issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate for a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine near Kamloops.
The shares lost almost 70% of their value, dropping 55 cents to 24 cents on the TSX Venture Exchange.
Ajax is an advanced stage gold-copper project owned by KGHM Ajax Mining Inc., a joint venture company held 20% by Abacus and 80% by major copper miner KGHM Polska Miedz S.A. [KGH-WARSAW].
The past-producing mine has been the subject of a joint review process involving the provincial B.C. Environmental Assessment Office and federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
In a press release, Abacus said The Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada announced that the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and cumulative effects to indigenous heritage and the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Indigenous peoples.
The decision by B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman and B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Michelle Mungall follows a six-year environmental assessment review process that was formerly initiated in February 2011 involving extensive engagement with provincial and federal government agencies, technical working and community advisory groups, First Nations, and a broad array of stakeholder interest groups including thousands of community members who took part.
Abacus Executive Chairman Michael McInnis said he is disappointed. “While we are naturally disheartened by the provincial Minister’s decisions to reject the Ajax Project in view of the highest standards that were consistently met for public consultation and stakeholder engagement, we continue to maintain that the Project is technically sound, viable and economically beneficial for the Kamloops community, First Nations and for the Province, B.C. and Canada,’’ McInnis said.
However, in citing reasons why the certificate was denied, Heyman said the potential effects of Ajax on air quality due to dust, and consequently on human health and well-being was one of the central issues of the environmental assessment due to the proximity to the City of Kamloops and residential neighbourhoods.