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Exploration under way for southeast Alaska mine project

June 22, 2019

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The developer of a proposed mine in southeast Alaska is moving ahead with exploration following a favorable court decision.

That decision, however, is being appealed by critics of the project, which is located near Haines.

Liz Cornejo, vice president for community and external affairs with Canada-based Constantine Metal Resources Ltd., told the Juneau Empire she believes mines, eagles and fish can co-exist.

The next phase of exploration involves tunneling into a mountain to get a better sense for how substantial the mineral deposit is. Developing the tunnel will take a few years, Cornejo said. She described such tunnels as fairly standard.

The so-called Palmer Project, if developed, is expected to produce a copper concentrate, a zinc concentrate, some gold and silver, and barite, she said. It is in an area previously designated for resource development, she said.

Constantine Metal Resources is working to advance the project with Japan-based Dowa Metals and Mining Co. Ltd.

In 2017, the Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan and conservation groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, alleging the agency neglected its duties in permitting expansions of mineral exploration in the area.

But a federal judge earlier this year ruled the agency isn’t required to review future effects of a mining project before approving exploration. That decision has been appealed.

Erin Whalen, senior associate attorney for Earthjustice in Alaska, which is representing the tribe and conservation groups, said not enough research has been done on the potential impacts of mining in the region.

The tunnel “creates a risk of water pollution” and Constantine’s plan for dealing with wastewater from the tunnel looks more like “wishful thinking than a serious plan to protect water quality,” Whalen said.

The developer of a proposed mine in southeast Alaska is moving ahead with exploration following a favorable court decision.

Constantine Metal Resources took over the claim near Haines in 2006.

Liz Cornejo, the company’s vice president for community and external affairs, told the Juneau Empire she believes mines, eagles and fish can co-exist.

An Alaska Native tribe and conservation groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, alleging the agency neglected its duties in permitting expansions of mineral exploration in the area.

But a federal judge ruled the agency isn’t required to review future effects of a mining project before approving exploration. That decision has been appealed.

Erin Whalen, with Earthjustice’s Alaska office, says not enough research has been done on the potential impacts of mining in the region.

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