Understanding recent permitting history of Greens Creek mine

My turn

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2001

Greens Creek is beginning the process of applying for a permit to expand its current tailings facility. Mines are dynamic entities and their facilities have a finite life. It is normal to have to extend facilities, or even permit new facilities, during the life of an operation. The permitting process that we are entering into requires an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to be undertaken by a independent, third-party contractor, who will be under the direction of the agencies. It also requires public participation. The first public participation meeting will be tonight in the City Assembly Rooms at 7.

It is important that the public have an understanding of the recent permitting history at Greens Creek.

At the end of 1999 the mine voluntarily entered into a period of environmental compliance review with an interagency team including the Forest Service, EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service, Corps of Engineers, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Game, City and Borough of Juneau, an independent third party environmental consultant (selected by the participating agencies) and local environmental interest groups.

The review concluded that the mine was in compliance with all of the regulatory requirements and that certain of the more complex monitoring procedures could be simplified. These changes were written into the Greens Creek General Plan of Operations by the third-party consultants and are with the Forest Service for approval.

In January 2001 as a result of the combined efforts of the interagency review team, the mine was issued a solid waste permit by Department of Environmental Conservation to cover the existing tailings impoundment and waste rock site. The issuing of the solid waste permit concluded Phase I of the interagency team's activities.

Building upon the momentum developed during phase I and utilizing the knowledge of the operation gathered by individual member of the interagency team, Greens Creek has initiated Phase II of the process, which will entail the permitting of additional tailings storage capacity.

Amongst the issues to be taken up during the permitting process is the ongoing prevention of any potential development of an acid rock drainage situation. All the agencies, independent consultants and our resident geochemical expert will participate in developing a comprehensive plan to prevent any potential ARD issues.

Greens Creek understands the extra responsibility that operating in a national monument brings and welcomes the opportunity to participate with the general public in this permitting process.

Keith Marshall is general manager of the Kennecott Greens Creek Mining Co., which operates the Greens Creek Mine in the Admiralty Island National Monument.

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