Another month given for mine responses

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2008

JUNEAU - Environmentalists and the U.S. Corps of Engineers have been given another month to respond to a U.S. Supreme Court petition filed by the owner of the Kensington gold mine to have its permits reinstated.

Coeur Alaska filed the petition with the high court in late January.

The federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Coeur's federal permits to dump tailings from the mine into Lower Slate Lake after the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation sued. Tailings are ground waste rock produced after metals are removed from ore.

The Department of Justice, representing the U.S. Corps of Engineers, asked for the extension, which applies to all respondents. The department did not join the state and the mining company in its petition.

In the event the court does not reinstate Coeur Alaska's permits, the mine operator is meanwhile pursuing new permits for another plan to convert tailings into paste and deposit them at Comet Beach on Lynn Canal. Earlier this month the company estimated it could have all its permits to begin construction by Oct. 1.

The mine is about 45 miles north of downtown.

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