The Constantine Palmer Project, a proposed metal mine near Klukwan, is the subject of a new report of 2,400 words per The Guardian. Corinne Smith of KHNS spoke to US business writer Dominic Rushe about her report.
The Palmer Project, also known as the Constantine Mine, is now at an advanced stage of exploration – looking for copper, zinc, silver and gold in the mountains above the Chilkat River.
Dominic Rushe, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, flew from New York at the invitation of Haines watershed scientist and activist Gershon Cohen, a member of the KHNS board of directors. Rushe spent a week in May reporting and interviewing community members on the impacts of the proposed mining project.
“IThis is not a new project. Merill Palmer made the request in 1969, âsaid Rush. âThere has been interest in this site for a long time. But it is in a way one more step towards a real mine with the involvement of Dowa, which is this huge Japanese metallurgical company that now has a majority stake in the project.
This year, Dowa plans to invest nearly $ 9 million in the Canadian mining company’s project to drill a large exploration tunnel under the Saksaia Glacier. The destination of the wastewater and runoff from the borehole is still being negotiated and has been a source of concern for some residents.
In his report posted on Tuesday, Rushe focused on the frontline indigenous community of Klukwan.
âKlukwan has been around for 2000 years, and you know, what is the average lifespan of a mine, like ten, twenty years. Is it really worth the risk of potentially polluting this waterway and destroying something that has been around for two thousand years? ”
Dust particles from mining trucks and contamination could endanger the health of residents and the entire environment, especially salmon runs.
“If copper gets into the waterway, copper in particular is terrible for fish and their research abilities and interferes with their ability to return to their spawning grounds.”
Ditto for tourism, which is a major industry for the Chilkat Valley, with visitors from all over the world coming to see the wildlife along the Chilkat River.
âPeople come to see the bald eagles, or come to fish, or come to see the wildlife and so on. If those things are gone, then it will beâ¦ really difficult for the tourism industry.
Rushe didn’t just speak to critics. He notes that there is a lot of support for a metal mine on the Upper Lynn Canal to create jobs and help the economy.
âThere are also people on the other side who say that the pandemic has shown how much tourism depends on tourism, and that having another industry in town would be great for Haines. And there should be more diversity in the local economy and maybe the mine could provide that. ”
Constantine, the exploration company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, plans to supporting more than 200 full-time jobs, plus about 40 entrepreneurs. Its leaders dismissed the pollution concerns and said the development of the mine would meet the highest standards.
âI spoke to Garfield McVeigh, who is the managing director of Constantine,â Rushe said. “He said it was overkill, the concerns were overblown and every precaution would be taken to ensure that this mine was developed and operated to the highest possible standards.”
Rushe says the final decision for Project Palmer will be made by Alaska state regulatory agencies, but the Biden administration could also get involved, as seen with Project Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay.
âWe don’t know when and if the mine will open. We do not know who will exploit it. We do not know the exact details of how the mine works. A while ago there was a dye test to determine where the mine runoff was going. I think it’s been made public again, that stuff like that, I think, needs to be released.
Rushe says these issues are complex and there will be a lot of new information over the next year or so. State and federal agencies are not the only decision makers, residents of Haines and Klukwan will also have the opportunity to speak.
At the moment, the Lutak Dock development project in Haines is being debated. The expansion could allow an ore wharf to transport mining materials to bulk carriers that could navigate to international ports. The next town hall for the Lutak Dock project is scheduled for 6.30 p.m. this Thursday, June 24 via Zoom. Join, see details on the Haines Borough calendar.