Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Assembly to decide on $20K mining program

 


The Haines Borough Assembly will consider Tuesday whether to fund a $20,000 proposal by Takshanuk Watershed Council for facilitation of stakeholder meetings and community forums on the potential development of a mine northwest of Haines.

Mayor Stephanie Scott and assembly member Debra Schnabel solicited the proposal, which aims to explore the economic, environmental, social and transportation-related impacts of development of the Palmer Project.

Constantine Metal Resources is currently performing exploratory work at the Palmer Project site about 30 miles northwest of Haines, which is believed to have considerable gold, silver, zinc and copper deposits.

Scott said the proposal, which can be altered, recommends holding a stakeholder meeting in the fall to identify “interests, concerns and perceptions” surrounding development of the Palmer Project. Takshanuk would then develop a list of speakers – objective researchers, scientists, economists – qualified to address those concerns.

A second stakeholder meeting would then be held to develop the final invitation list. The speakers would then present at a two-day community forum in spring 2015, and a final follow-up stakeholder meeting would be used to discuss community feedback and what, if any, steps the borough or tribal governments might take.

“The main work that Takshanuk Watershed Council would do is to try to seek out legitimate and science-based experts to come in and answer some of the questions and develop a greater understanding of what is going on,” Schnabel said.

Scott called the move an “a-positional” enterprise and an attempt to get everyone “educated in the same room.”

“We’re not faced with a mine immediately, but, nonetheless, people have concerns. They’re worried; they’re interested. And we would like to be leaders and help people navigate those concerns prior to taking a position,” Scott said.

Scott and Schnabel worked primarily with Takshanuk’s acting executive director Brad Ryan to put together the proposal.

Local conservation group Lynn Canal Conservation brought four presenters to Haines last spring to discuss various aspects of mining. The presentations were funded by a grant from the Western Mining Action Network.

Scott said while she appreciated the LCC presenters, she perceived bias in several of the presentations. “I’m grateful for their effort and I think it was well-intended, but I think their selection of presenters was in some ways unfortunate,” she said.

Scott said she is confident Takshanuk will be able to maintain impartiality through the process, if the assembly approves the proposal.

“They know that their reputation is on the line should they be allowed to take this on, because they have to remain unaligned. And that’s what they want to be,” she said.

Regarding the $20,000 proposed price tag, Scott said “somebody has to get paid to do it.”

“I think there is no amount of money that is worth community cohesion. That’s what we’re looking for. Not that everybody is going to agree, but that everybody is going to respect everybody else’s opinion. I would pay beaucoup dollars for that to be achieved,” she said.

Ideally, the Chilkat Indian Village and Chilkoot Indian Association would co-sponsor the project along with the borough, Scott said. 

Scott said she would also like to see the Chamber of Commerce and planning commission participate.

 
 

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