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

Thoughts on mine trasportation


June 13, 2019

One under-discussed detail of Constantine’s Palmer Prospect has been transportation—and it’s a huge deal. If you think traffic is bad now, just wait. Remember, the Haines Highway will be the mine’s haul road. This means a steady stream of 40-ton tandem trailer trucks hauling concentrate year-round, all the way from Mile 35 through town to the port and back again. These are big, long, heavy rigs that will certainly affect traffic flow, roadbed wear, and highway safety—not to mention result in an all-hours noise increase, decreased property values, and a distinct degradation of the aesthetic ambiance residents and vital-to-the-economy visitors value, along the one and only highway we have. But wait, there’s more! Add on a conga line of supply, fuel, and equipment trucks, and so on. Imagine this parade folded into the existing mix of traffic, and you have a snapshot of a reality that will be imposed on us for a decade-plus.

In case that isn’t enough to give you pause, consider the ongoing transportation history of Red Dog Mine, northwest of Kotzebue. Despite a private-access haul road over tundra, operator Teck Cominco has reported more than 30 ore truck accidents along its 52 miles, resulting in massive spills of toxic metal concentrates. Furthermore, a 2017 study coauthored by National Park Service scientists reports ongoing heavy metal contamination far down the road corridor from the mine, despite cutting-edge containment protocols and equipment. Do we really believe things will be somehow different for us, and the Chilkat?

Nick Jans


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