March 31, 2006
"I was very pleased to learn that the Corps has reinstated Coeur's 404 permit for the Kensington, allowing construction at the mine to continue," said the governor. "This is welcome news for the employees currently working at the site, who were facing potential layoffs. The Corps action reaffirms the sound science that has gone into the environmental planning for the Kensington mine."
The governor thanked the Corps, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the state Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, the Congressional Delegation and the employees and staff at Coeur Alaska for their efforts in bringing this issue to a successful conclusion.
Michael L. Menge, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, also welcomed the news. "Alaskans and the mining industry are both well-served by the ongoing commitment by federal and state regulators to take every precaution to ensure mineral development is done right. The Corps' decision to let Kensington proceed only after ensuring the mine's tailings disposal plan is safe and environmentally benign is evidence that our system of responsible mineral development is working."
In November 2005, the Corps withdrew its 404 permit for Kensington as a result of an environmental lawsuit that triggered an internal permit review by the Corps. The permit withdrawal caused a slowdown of construction activity at the mine, costing Coeur about $30 million, according to company officials. In recent weeks, Coeur had indicated that unless the Corps made a decision by the beginning of April, the company would have to reduce its workforce.
"This mine is critical to the economic health and diversification of Southeast Alaska," said Murkowski. "Mine construction is already providing good-paying jobs for Juneau area residents and the mine will continue to provide those high paying jobs once it is fully operational. It is time to proceed with mine construction so the benefits of this project can be fully realized, by Coeur and by the residents of Southeast Alaska.
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