Environmentalists and the developer differ on whether the Tulsequah Chief multi-metal mine will be developed in British Columbia, near the Alaska border.
The only thing that's certain is that construction of a 100-mile access road from Atlin, B.C., to the mine site won't happen this year, as planned. The mine site is about 40 miles northeast of Juneau.
Don Weir of the Taku Wilderness Association in Atlin says that Tulsequah Chief has become ``irrelevant'' and that he's more concerned about other potential development in the wilderness area.
``The Tulsequah mine battle is a symbolic battle,'' Weir told local mining watchdog group Alaskans for Juneau during a trip here last week. ``The Redfern company has made major mistakes, and the Taku Tlingit have taken the province and Redfern to court. No investor is likely to go near (the mine).''
But Terry Chandler, president of mine developer Redfern Resources Ltd. in Vancouver, scoffed at Weir's comments. ``All I would say is Don Weir is irrelevant to the company.''
Chandler acknowledged that environmental review of the road has moved more slowly than hoped, pushing construction back to summer 2001. But the permitting process still is advancing at a pace that should have the mine doing business in 2003, he said.
There have been occasional government-to-government discussions about the mine between Canada and the United States, given the theoretical potential for mine operations to damage Taku Inlet, south of Juneau. The office of Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles is monitoring the project, as well.