Two mining forums scheduled this week

Constantine to delay underground project until 2021


March 5, 2020

Two mining forums will be available to residents again this month—one discussing mining risks, led by Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s staff scientist Guy Archibald; another focusing on Constantine Metal Resources’ plans and how the community should plan for a mine, led by the Chilkat Valley Mining Forum Committee.

SEACC’s forum “What Happens Upstream Doesn’t Stay Upstream” will be presented in the Chilkat Center on Thursday, March 5 at 7 p.m. The mining forum committee’s “Constantine Updates and Community Planning” will occur Saturday, March 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 8 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Archibald said he’ll be discussing risk and risk management and “why things tend to be risky and what you can do about it.”

Constantine spokesperson and mining forum committee member Liz Cornejo said updates will address the company’s preliminary economic assessment, exploration potential and the proposed underground exploration phase.

That project will be delayed until summer of 2021, Constantine announced in an annual audit document released last week. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation last summer remanded Constantine’s waste management permit which would allow them to build an underground tunnel and dispose of the wastewater underground. The agency is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling that would affect whether the company would need a more stringent permit, along with results from a tracer-dye study that will help establish whether there’s a connection between the proposed wastewater underground diffuser and nearby surface waters.

“The underground project requires certainty in permitting as well as financing,” Cornejo said. “There’s been some delays in that for this season.”

Constantine is still in discussions with investors for financing the underground project and for potential drilling this season, Cornejo said. “This year isn’t a good year for financing,” Cornejo said, pointing to unfavorable market conditions.

The company secured a $667,800 loan late last summer to cover Palmer Project expenses in 2019.

This weekend’s mining forum committee event speakers include Juneau city manager Rorie Watt who will appear via teleconference, Meilani Schijvens, a Rain Coast Data socio-economic specialist and Shena Shaw, a Hemmera consultant who recently interviewed residents about their questions and concerns about a mine project.

This is the second year that two forums have been scheduled. Since the committee’s inception in 2017, several organizations, including the Haines Economic Development Corporation, Chilkat Indian Village and Takshanuk Watershed Council resigned from the committee.

HEDC members said they thought their membership in the mining forum committee would harm their credibility as an unbiased organization. Last spring, TWC organized a separate forum after the mining forum committee rejected a speaker TWC wanted to include. TWC resigned from the organization last fall.

Current members of the mining forum committee include Jan Hill, Ed Coffland (Haines Borough), Tracey Harmon (Haines Chamber of Commerce), Diana Lapham, Richard Clement (Haines Chapter of the Alaska Miners Association), Ryan Cook, Marty Smith (Haines Gillnetters Association), Stuart DeWitt (United Southeast Gillnetters Association), Jessie Badger (Palmer Family), Sheri Maust, Liz Cornejo (Constantine), Luke Williams and James Hart (Chilkoot Indian Association).


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