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I can understand why people would want the Kensington Mine to open. Juneau residents want economic growth opportunities that move beyond tourism and for good reason. Every summer, it feels like a daily invasion of mammoth cruise ships that bring in over one third of the population of Juneau. Large outside companies have had a tremendous impact on Southeast Alaska, and the changes that have been made to accommodate tourism have not always served to benefit the people who live here year round.
And then there's money, the bottom line.
Most jobs in tourism don't pay high wages and many of the people who work those jobs are only here for the summer.
So it's tempting to see the Kensington Mine as a great opportunity for higher paying jobs for Southeast residents. Too bad Coeur Alaska Inc., isn't local. Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., based in Idaho, has a bad reputation. This company has been sued for polluting the Coeur d'Alene River Basin in Idaho and cited by the state of Nevada for violating its cyanide standards by polluting its groundwater.
Well, I know clean water is important, but what about the bottom line?
Coeur said it spent over $100 million on the Kensington Mine project, and even though a lot of that money was spent on two previous mine designs the company decided not to go ahead with, Coeur has used this figure to demonstrate the company's commitment to Juneau, offering great jobs with more money.
In 1998, Coeur could have built the mine on the Lynn Canal side - Juneau could have had six years of these good jobs - but they decided that it wouldn't be profitable. Now Coeur wants the mine to be built in Berners Bay because it would be cheaper for them. Reports have shown that Coeur has performed below other mining companies and has not been profitable for the last few years. And the mine would only operate for 10-15 years and it's debatable whether Southeast Alaskans would fill up the majority of these good jobs.
Economic growth is important, but that growth should be long-term, should serve the community, and the Kensington Mine doesn't offer that. Are we going to let another invader in to take what they want and leave us with ... what?