JUNEAU, Alaska — A British Columbian gold mine would pollute a major tributary of a Ketchikan fjord, threatening fishing stock and tourism, locals say.
They allege the mine’s massive amounts of water requiring treatment, and its sludge, tailings, rock and processing, would be a “looming train wreck.”
A meeting of fishermen, environmentalists and tribal members convened by environmental groups focused on the proposed Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell mine, also known as KSM, The Juneau Empire reported.
KSM is undergoing permitting in British Columbia. It would be one of the largest mines in the world.
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“Alaska has nothing to gain by this mine,” said Guy Archibald, coordinator of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s mining and clean-water project. “We’re only going to get contamination from it.”
The mine is proposed for a site on the Unuk River, which flows into the Misty Fjords National Monument.
The river supports five species of salmon. Mine owner Seabridge Gold conducted an environmental report that predicts minimal impact on fish and their habitat.
Most criticized at the meeting was the lack of objective data on the mine’s impact. Since all data so far has been generated by company-funded studies, Archibald called for state dollars to pay for scientifically accurate and defensible” studies.
The Juneau Empire tried unsuccessfully to reach Seabridge Gold.
After mining, the site could need monitoring for decades, and speakers questioned the resilience of several of the structures the company plans to hold tailings and other byproducts.
“This is a long-term, very large issue of transboundary impacts,” said seiner and speaker Bruce Wallace, past president on the executive committee of the United Fishermen of Alaska.
KSM expects to employ 1,040 people at the site once the mine is operational.