SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Mine drilling to go forward in Roadless


August 17, 2011

(SitNews) – U.S. Forest Service Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton said mining geotechnical and exploration drilling projects in inventoried roadless areas on Prince of Wales Island and Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska have been approved to go forward.

Both projects either have had NEPA analysis completed or are close to completion of the required analysis.

Pendleton said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on Wednesday approved geotechnical and exploration drilling in inventoried roadless areas for the Greens Creek Mine and the Niblack Mine exploration projects. “This approval will allow Greens Creek to continue the expansion of its tailings site and Niblack to continue its exploration,” said Pendleton.

 “In each case, helicopters will transport the drilling rigs, no roads will be constructed or reconstructed and site reclamation will be completed after drilling operations are done. Both projects will create new mining jobs in Southeast Alaska,” added Pendleton.

In a prepared statement, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) said, “I appreciate the U.S. Forest Service moving these projects forward.  The Niblack permit is critical for completion of this year’s exploration plan, while the permit for Greens Creek will provide data needed for the proposed tailings expansion project."

“Mining exploration and enhancement of existing mine operations help to create and keep a significant number of jobs in the area.  I am particularly grateful that Undersecretary Sherman and Chief Tidwell have been receptive to my support of these projects in Southeast Alaska," said Begich.

"These two projects will help employ Alaskans on important projects while providing crucial environmental safeguards," said Harris Sherman, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment at the US Department of Agriculture.  "Both the Niblack and Green Creek projects will have minimal footprints -- less than an acre apiece -- with the potential for substantial boosts to local economies."  

The Niblack exploration will take place approximately 30 miles southwest of Ketchikan on southeastern Prince of Wales Island within the Eudora Inventoried Roadless Area. The proposed eight drilling sites will affect less than an acre in the over 200,000-acre IRA.  Workers will access the sites on foot.

The Greens Creek geotechnical drilling area is 20 miles southwest of Juneau within the Admiralty Island National Monument and the Greens Creek Inventoried Roadless Area. The drilling will take place in no more than three locations and the total area affected by the drill pads is expected to be less than an acre.

Sen. Begich said, “During my recent visit to Ketchikan, I met with officials from Ucore Rare Metals, the company proposing to operate a rare earth element mine at Bokan Mountain.  It is clear that mining is playing an increasingly important role in Southeast Alaska’s economy."


Sources of News: 

Forest Service

Office of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich


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