Coeur d'Alene Mine Corp. is 'ready to go' on Kensington

Juneau may see $25M more in payroll, $2.5M more in tax revenue, CEO says

Posted: Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Kensington Gold Mine is back in business.

That was the message Tuesday as Coeur CEO Dennis Wheeler addressed more than 100 mine supporters and workers during a breakfast held at the Juneau Moose Lodge.

Wheeler, the top executive of the Idaho-based Coeur d'Alene Mine Corp., said his company is "ready to go" following the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling last week upholding the mine's permits. Coeur hosted the breakfast for Juneau Chamber of Commerce members, many of whom have backed the mine for years.

Wheeler highlighted job creation and additional revenue flowing into the community. He said Juneau could look forward to an additional $25 million in payroll, $2.5 million in taxes to the city and $19.3 million spent on supplies and services, spent locally when possible.

Wheeler used the first few minutes of his talk thanking the groups and individuals that supported the mine. He even had some kind words for the environmental groups that fought its tailings plan in court.

"They fought the good fight," he said, referring to the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Lynn Canal Conservation and the Juneau Group of the Sierra Club.

Oceana Vice President Jim Ayers was the only professional environmentalist in attendance. Oceana worked as a mediator between Kensington officials and environmentalists, but was not involved in the lawsuits.

Ayers, like many other environmentalists, is concerned about what the Supreme Court's ruling could mean at a national level and how the ruling will change interpretations of the Clean Water Act. He hopes Kensington is the "exception and not the rule."

Like Wheeler, Ayers also had a few kind words for the opposition.

"I would say Dennis and Coeur should be commended," he said.

The challenge, Ayers said, is "threading the needle" of balancing economic growth with eco-friendliness.

"We ... must understand sustainable living," he said. "We need SEACC just like we need Coeur and its mines. We both want the same thing: Jobs today and a healthy environment for future generations."

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