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.