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Alaska mine proposes road to possible expansion sites

October 3, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A large lead and zinc mine in northwest Alaska is planning to build a 10-mile (16-kilometer) road to a pair of possible expansion sites.

Red Dog Mine operator Teck has applied for state and federal permits for the road project. The company wants to transport heavy equipment to the prospective sites to do more intensive underground drilling, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.

The mine has operated since 1989 and the company hopes to extend its lifespan by finding a new source of zinc and lead at the remote Arctic sites of Anarraaq and Aktigiruq. The Canada-based mining company has already been drilling from the surface at the sites, moving in equipment by helicopter.

The company expects the mine to stay in operation through 2031, but it’s assessing the new deposits to see if they are “economically and environmentally viable” to extend past that date, Teck spokesman Chris Stannell said.

The mine is currently on land owned by the NANA Regional Corporation, paying back hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly royalties. The new sites are on state land.

Teck applied with the state Department of Natural Resources in June to build the road and support facilities. The state published the plans last week and is accepting public comment for two weeks.

Tech chose the road’s route after consulting with local elders and subsistence hunters, Stannell said.

It’s working with residents, elders and NANA “to ensure we conduct this work in a way that is protective of the environment, such as ensuring that water sources are protected and preventing any potential impacts to subsistence resources such as caribou,” he said.

Construction is expected to start in mid-January, and the project will include six steel bridges, Stannell said.

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This story has been corrected to show that member source was Alaska’s Energy Desk, not KTOO Public Media

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Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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