JUNEAU - Public comment closed Friday on a draft environmental review of the Kensington gold mine issued by the U.S. Forest Service.
Conservation groups that successfully sued to stop the Kensington gold mine's tailings plan have praised the new plan and say they won't ask for the most detailed formal environmental review.
The Forest Service received mine operator Coeur Alaska's new plan for a paste tailings facility in January. It must now decide how much formal environmental review a permit requires.
That will affect when the mine can open.
Juneau district Ranger Pete Griffin in March recommended the least detailed review, a supplemental information report. Mine operators say that option could allow the mine to start up by late August.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council recommended an environmental assessment, which could take the mine until November.
SEACC did not recommend an environmental impact statement, which could take 12 to 18 months.
The group has been involved with ongoing talks with the mine that both sides have praised.
The Kensington gold mine is 45 miles northwest of Juneau, on the north side of Berners Bay. Coeur Alaska is owned by Idaho-based Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp.
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