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visiting Alaska, America's icebox

Going To Alaska, America’s icebox



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Kensington Mine eyes federal permit for expansion

was written by Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska – Juneau , 2019-10-01 01:53:17

be sure to visit their website, source link is at the end of the article

The Kensington Mine’s Comet (west) portal, north of Berners Bay. (2015 photo by James Brooks.)

One of Alaska’s largest gold mines seeks to extend its life by a decade.

The Kensington Mine is one of Southeast Alaska’s biggest private employers. Chicago-based Coeur Mining wants to invest in an expansion to extend operations at least through 2034.

“The mine was originally designed for a 10-year mine life and we’ve exceeded that,” Kensington’s General Manager Mark Kiessling told CoastAlaska on Friday.

The underground mine’s tailings storage area is expected to be full by 2024. The mine projects to be out of waste rock storage space even sooner: 2022.

Coeur Alaska has applied to the U.S. Forest Service to increase its footprint in the Tongass by 150 acres. That would expand three existing waste rock storage sites and add a fourth to boost overall capacity by about 5 million tons.

The mine employs nearly 400 people — with more than 40 percent living in Southeast. The Kensington Gold Mine is located 45 miles north of Juneau in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. It opened in 2010.

“We hope to stick around in the community, we plan to stick around,” Kiessling said. “We hope to find the additional reserves and keep people here in Southeast Alaska employed and working at Kensington Mine.”

After the gold is extracted, the leftover mine waste — known as tailings — are kept underwater in Lower Slate Lake. The lake appears on company maps as a “tailings treatment facility.”

That’s through a legal precedent set in 2009 by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing mine waste to be submerged in inland waters. But since the mine’s now running out of space, the lake’s dam needs to be raised by 36 feet.

The company also wants to raise its cap on daily production from 2,000 to 3,000 tons per day.

Critics of the expansion include the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. The nonprofit environmental group’s Guy Archibald says climate research projects heavier rainfall and extreme weather.

The organization’s staff scientist says he’s worried the lake could overflow and mine waste would spill over into nearby streams.

“What we used to call 200-year storm events are happening at a weekly or monthly basis nowadays,” Archibald said.

SEACC was among the environmental groups that unsuccessfully fought court battles to keep Lower Slate Lake from being used as a tailings pond.

“They’re not considering global climate change, they’re not taking the precautionary steps to prevent a catastrophic failure of that dam,” he added.

But Kiessling says concerns like these will be addressed in the mine’s environmental impact statement to come.

“These are things that will consider as we go through the scoping process,” Kiessling said, “and as we go through the permitting process, so nothing is finalized yet.”

When the mine does shut down it’ll need to keep the mine waste from leaching out into the surrounding watershed.

The reclamation plan calls for keeping the tailings submerged in water in both Lower Slate Lake and the adjacent Upper Slate Lake.

“We’d allow those two lakes to merge and then it would just become become one large lake,” Kiessling said.

But he says both lakes would have to meet water quality levels acceptable to state and federal regulators — that means restoring fish habitat lost during operations.

The mining company was recently fined $500,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency for allowing the release of acid rock drainage into Lower Slate Lake and other lapses in monitoring, assessments, inspections and trainings, federal regulators said.

The first stage of Kensington’s proposed expansion plan is out for public review. The Forest Service is taking public comment through Nov. 7.

A pair of public meetings are also planned:

  • Juneau Ranger District, 8510 Mendenhall Loop Road, from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8.
  • Haines Public Library, 111 3rd Avenue, Haines, from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Once the 45-day scoping period is concluded, the mine’s expansion plan will undergo a formal environmental review with additional hearings and public comment.

Read Original Kensington Mine eyes federal permit for expansion Article Here

visiting Alaska, America's icebox

A Vacation In Alaska, the Last Frontier

Sometimes the more useful articles are not sweeping academic investigation but detailed experiences highlighting people and small communities. Then again, paradoxically frequently it’s the prominent organizations offering the more interesting and informational narratives. Of course there is also a place for travel and tourism statistical research or policy analysis. Material about a trip to Alaska, the Last Frontier such as Kensington Mine eyes federal permit for expansion assist us to uncover the far reaching potential of sustainable travel.

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My appropriate spots for consumers visiting Alaska is

Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the largest national forest in the United States. It received its name from the Tongass Clan of the Tlingit native people and goes back to 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt created the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve. In 1908 the forest was renamed and expanded and today the 16.9 million-acre Tongass National Forest extends from the Pacific to the vast inland ice fields that edge British Columbia and from the southern tip of Prince of Wales Island to Malaspina Glacier 500 miles to the north. Approximately 80 percent of Southeast Alaska is in Tongass and with it’s thousands of islands, fjords and bays the national forest offers 11,000 miles of coastline. Tongass’ enormous coastal rain forest includes towering hemlock, spruce and red and yellow cedar. The undergrowth beneath thebig conifers is composed of young evergreens and shrubs such as devil’s club, blueberry and huckleberry. Moss and ferns cover the ground, and lichens adorn many trees and rocks.

Wildlife is abundant all through Tongass. Sitka blacktail deer and its two key predators, wolf and brown bear, are found here. Black bear are common as well as mountain goats and some moose. Marine mammals observed along the coast line include Dall and harbor porpoises, seals and humpback, minke and orca whales and an increasing population of sea otters. The waters teem with fish including halibut and all 5 species of Pacific salmon. More bald eagles live in this region than in any other spot in the world. Even though home to the world’s main temperate rain forest, almost fifty percent of Tongass is covered by ice, water, wetlands and rock. It’s most recognized ice floe is the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska’s “Drive-in glacier” because it is just thirteen miles from down-town Juneau along a paved road. A boat ride from Petersburg or Wrangell brings anyone near the face of LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier on the continent. Merely 30 miles north of Yakutat is Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in the world and very easily Alaska’s most active. The 76-mile-long glacier has crossed Russell Fjord several times, most recently in 2008. The rip tides and currents that flow in front of the 8-mile-wide glacier are so powerful they cause Hubbard to calve nearly constantly. The Tongass consists of 19 wilderness areas, including the 545-sq-mile Russell Fjord Wilderness, in addition to Admiralty Island National Monument and Misty Fiords National Monument. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and the general area surrounding Haines and Skagway are not part of the national forest.

a vacation in Tongass National Forest in the state of Alaska

A Trip To Tongass National Forest in Alaska