Core drilling pads above Glacier Creek. Lex Treinen photo.

Constantine Mining is appealing an August decision by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation that ruled the department hadn’t followed its own guidance in its water quality studies at Glacier Creek, which sits below the proposed Palmer Project mine.

Constantine filed an appeal in Alaska Superior Court about the decision on Oct. 20 which it said in an email is “to gain clarity on the regulations.” Last week, the Chilkat Indian Village and several environmental organizations signed on to defend the DEC’s decision.

The Palmer Project is a copper, zinc, gold, silver and barite deposit that sits above Glacier Creek, about 35 miles north of Haines. Glacier Creek is a tributary to the Klehini and Chilkat rivers. The Tlingit village of Klukwan sits about 15 miles downstream from the mine at the confluence of the Chilkat and Klehini rivers.

In August, the DEC upheld a permit allowing discharge of wastewater into Glacier Creek but ruled the department had violated its own rules in setting baseline pollutant levels and hadn’t adequately notified the public.

Constantine initially called the ruling “fair” in an email to CVN and said it would not affect its operations. The company, which is owned by American Pacific Metals and the Japan-based DOWA Holdings, recently wrapped up its summer work season. The company poured $25 million into this summer’s work, by far the most it has spent in recent years.

In its superior court appeal, Constantine, represented by the Juneau-based law office of James F. Clark, argued that the DEC’s requirement that it complete a new water quality analysis based on the department’s guidance is unnecessary.

The commissioner of the DEC, Jason Brune, “erred” in ruling that its environmental analysis “failed to comply with the rules and guidance for implementing water quality standards based on environmental conditions,” according to Constantine’s appeal.

Brune, a former public affairs manager for the proposed Pebble mine in Southwest Alaska, resigned on Aug. 20.

In a press release, Chilkat Indian Village Vice President Jones Hotch, Jr. blasted Constantine’s appeal. The tribe is based in Klukwan, which sits about 15 miles downriver from the proposed mine.

“It shows their desire to avoid the public process that would examine the impacts of exploration on the region’s water quality,” he said in the release.

Constantine president Peter Mercer told CVN last month that the company would be presenting an operation plan in early November, at the Alaska Miners Association conference, but according to the company, the technical session was overbooked.

A date or judge had not been set for a superior court hearing as of Nov. 7.