December 6, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 49

Constantine mine risks everything

The Americas are littered with abandoned mines that continue to pollute long after the companies have made their money and moved on. Examples are abundant, some of which I have seen firsthand in Montana and Idaho. By courting plans for further exploration of the Palmer deposit by Constantine Resources (backed by foreign money), Haines is creeping toward a crossroads: preserving what we have or risking monumental loss.

The Palmer deposit development plan calls for the construction of a containment dam. If there were to be any breach of the dam, citizens of Haines would be faced with untold losses. Fishing jobs – gone, subsistence and local cultural dependence on salmon – gone, the return of eagles and the Bald Eagle Festival – gone, fish-dependent businesses – all gone. The thinnest thread of anything associated with salmon – gone.

Once the mine has played out its earning potential, the mining companies and associated jobs will be – gone. And Haines? It will be left holding the bag, and when its citizens look inside, they will notice that everything is – gone, except for one item: the containment dam and its contents. Returning salmon runs and the jobs directly dependent on them ($15 million this past year) have been, and should continue to be, the lifeblood of the Haines valley. Haines’ cultural and economic prosperity is dependent upon a healthy ecosystem that supports sustainable salmon runs. Let’s not risk it all on a mine that threatens that existence.

Mark Battion