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State Lauds Teck Decision to Expand Red Dog Mine

(Anchorage, AK)  – Alaska’s richest mining operation is back on track to expand, after Canada’s Teck Resources announced recently it has decided to proceed with development of the Aqqaluk deposit at its Red Dog zinc mine near Kotzebue. The mine is operated by Teck Alaska Inc. under an agreement with landowner NANA Regional Corp. Inc.

Development had been on hold at Red Dog, the largest zinc producer in the world, pending an appeal of Teck’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-issued wastewater discharge permit. But after discussions with regulators, Teck believes there is a viable plan in place to resolve the permit appeal and has decided to move ahead with its plans at Aqqaluk.

“Mining played a major role in Alaska’s past, and it is a powerful economic force in the present,” said DCCED Commissioner Emil Notti. “We applaud Teck’s plans to develop Red Dog Mine further, and the Parnell administration stands ready to work with the state’s congressional delegation and all stakeholders to ensure that mining remains a vibrant contributor to Alaska’s future.”

According to a DCCED study, the Red Dog Mine accounts for 18 percent of all employment in the Northwest Arctic Borough. Activity at the mine supports 259 jobs for borough residents, whose wages totaled $14 million in 2008. Additionally, the mine contributed $7.7 million in taxes to the Northwest Arctic Borough coffers.

Red Dog has an even larger economic footprint statewide, with 516 employees in three business units earning $51 million in 2008. Another 2,300 jobs around the state are directly tied to mining activity at Red Dog. Overall, it is estimated that Red Dog accounted for $558 million in total output to Alaska’s economy. The mining industry as a whole, with a gross value of $3.2 billion, is a significant component of Alaska’s resource economy.

“We are thrilled that Teck has decided to continue development at Red Dog Mine,” said Curtis Thayer, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. “This is a win for residents of the area, who depend on the economic benefits provided by the mine, and it is a win for the Alaska mining industry, which is a huge contributor to our economy.”

All necessary permits and authorizations are in place for Teck to develop Aqqaluk. Earlier this year, a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) conducted by the EPA concluded that the proposed limits contained in a new water discharge permit for Red Dog were protective of the environment.

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