Alaska: Corps of Engineers Reissues Rock Creek Mine Permitadmin
The Army Corps of Engineers has reinstated a permit that will allow construction of the Rock Creek Mine near Nome.
The permit was issued Aug. 21. The corps suspended the permit Dec. 6 in response to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Trustees for Alaska and the Western Mining Action Project.
The plaintiffs took issue with plans that called for the use of toxic chemicals to extract gold. The plaintiffs claimed that the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing a permit for the mine and mill project without preparing an environmental assessment to independently determine effects on human health and the environment.
They also claimed that the agency did not consult with local tribes to satisfy National Historic Preservation Act requirements.
Corps officials announced Tuesday that they had determined that Alaska Gold Co.’s permit was consistent with applicable laws and regulations.
The permit is expected to become effective March 13 when the final paperwork is signed by Col. Kevin J. Wilson, commander of the Alaska District.
“I’m confident that this decision is a positive reflection of our efforts to provide an equitable balance that is in the public’s best interest,” Wilson said.
The corps reached a “finding of no significant impact” in an environmental assessment.
The modified permit makes changes in the effects on wetlands and upland acreage.
Also, several of the original special conditions were clarified to improve enforceability, the corps said, and new conditions were added requiring Alaska Gold to clearly mark boundaries of authorized fill sites and to submit an annual report.
The original permit authorized placing fill into 414.5 acres of wetlands. The reissued permit will authorize placing fill material into 346.5 acres of wetlands.
The permit also includes new mitigation measures. One is a plan to re-establish fish and wildlife habitat along Big Hurrah Creek. Other local streams that have been historically placer mined also will be restored to conditions similar to a pre-mining state.
Alaska Gold will retrieve mine tailings that historically were disposed of in stream channels and use the material for road construction and other work associated with the project. The company will re-contour the stream channels to a more natural condition, the corps said.
Source: AP via Yahoo News