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The conflict over putting in a hard-rock mine near the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska took a new turn recently with the filing of a lawsuit by an Alaska Native Tlingit tribe and three environmental groups. The group is suing the Bureau of Land Management, saying that the agency granted mineral exploration permits without considering how a mine could affect the Chilkat River's salmon and the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.
Constantine Metal Resources Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia along with investment partner Dowa Metals & Mining Co., Ltd. of Japan is exploring a potential site for a mine (located on the upper left side of image) just above Glacier Creek (foreground) and the Klehini River (right side of image). The border with British Columbia is at the upper right. The area above Glacier Greek, known as the Palmer Deposit is located near mile 40 of the Haines Highway.
The minerals that Constantine’s drilling explorations have found are primarily copper and zinc, with significant amounts of gold and silver.
Support for a large scale mine such as the Constantine project is divided among residents of Haines, a small community in Southeast Alaska 75 miles northwest of Juneau. The community’s needed economic boost from jobs, development and other mine support that a large-scale mine brings is tempting to some. To others, anything that might put the salmon spawning and rearing habitat and watershed resources at risk is simply unimaginable and unacceptable. Of particular concern is copper and other heavy metals in mine waste leaching into the Klehini River (shown) and the Chilkat River 14 miles downstream. Copper and heavy metals are toxic to salmon and bald eagles.
The Chilkat River chum salmon are the primary food source for one of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world. Each fall, bald eagles congregate in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, located only three miles downriver from the area of current exploration.
- Constantine Palmer Deposit aerial.jpg
- © 2014 John L. Dengler
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