Feds to join appeal on tailings decision

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2008

JUNEAU - The federal agency in charge of Coeur Alaska's tailings permit for the Kensington gold mine will join in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court asking to have permits for a previous tailings plan reinstated.

"We're actually going to join in the certiorari," said Col. Kevin Wilson, referring to a request for review by the high court.

Wilson, Alaska district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, made the comment Thursday while speaking at an Alaska Business Roundtable event, sponsored by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

The state and Coeur Alaska's parent company, Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., filed the appeal last Monday.

The mine's permit to dump tailings into nearby Lower Slate Lake north of Berners Bay were invalidated in May by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a suit brought by local conservation groups, which charged that the tailings plan violated the Clean Water Act.

Environmental groups said they would challenge the appeal.

Also on Jan. 25, Coeur Alaska submitted a revised plan to convert tailings into a paste and store it on Comet Beach on Lynn Canal. Tailings are the waste rock left after metal is extracted from ore.

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