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Sen. Murkowski Applauds Kensington Mine Decision

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Approves Tailings Permit With Minor Changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today welcomed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to re-issue Coeur Alaska's tailings permit for the Kensington mine in Southeast Alaska.

"This is a decision that's both good for the environment and Southeast's struggling economy," Murkowski said. "Kensington will provide hundreds of badly needed jobs and tax revenue while having a minimal affect on the environment."

Development of the mine is expected to create more than 300 jobs and provide millions of dollars in taxes and other revenue to the Juneau area.

The Corps reviewed more than 8,500 public comments before issuing its decision to extend the 404 fill permit originally issued to Coeur Alaska in 2005. The renewed permit requires the mine developer to complete construction of the tailings facility on Lower Slate Lake by July 31, 2014.

The Corps' action will allow work at the Juneau-area gold mine to resume. The tailings facility is the final piece developer Coeur Alaska needs to complete before the mine can begin commercial production. Coeur hopes to begin initial production early next year. 

Murkowski expressed her appreciation to the Corps for acting in a timely manner. Murkowski said she also appreciates the decision by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials to respect the high court's ruling and forego further challenge of the tailings permit under the Clean Water Act. 

"After years of review and legal challenges, I'm happy to see this important economic development project finally moving forward," Murkowski said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in June that Coeur Alaska had a valid tailings permit from the Corps.

Officials at EPA had objected to Coeur Alaska's plans to dispose of the mine tailings in Lower Slate Lake, and had sent a letter to the Corps asking it to consider alternative solutions. The Corps' decision re-affirms that depositing the mine tailings in the lake is the best environmental option. Under the permit, Coeur Alaska is required to rehabilitate and restock the lake once mining activity is completed.

August 14, 2009

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