Juneau's two mines say they oppose Ballot Measure 4 because they don't know how it will affect them.
However, initiative supporters say it won't affect Juneau-area mines.
Greens Creek Mine General Manager Scott Hartman said he agreed with statements on the state's Web site: The measure's regulatory effects would likely end up being determined in the courts.
"Right now, we understand the rules under which we operate. I don't believe there is anyone out there who will truly tell you that they understand what this initiative means," he said. "That's very frightening for us."
Greens Creek is a multimetal mine on Admiralty Island that employs about 320 people in the Juneau area. It is owned by Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co.
Although smaller than 640 acres, Greens Creek also has title to mineral rights on 7,500 acres of federal land next to the property, according to the Hecla Web site. Hartman said the mine could expand in the future.
Hecla donated $752,500 to the Council of Alaska Producers, which has funded ads to fight Measure 4.
Idaho-based Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., owner of Coeur Alaska Inc. and its Kensington gold mine, is not a member of the Council of Alaska Producers, and did not donate to the anti-4 campaign, as far as investor relations spokesman Tony Ebersole knew Thursday.
But that doesn't mean Coeur likes the measure.
"Alaska already has some of the strongest environmental regulation in the world. This measure adds a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy," Ebersole said. "Plus it's confusing."
He said he didn't know whether the measure would result in stricter environmental regulation.
The Kensington gold mine, 45 miles northwest of Juneau on Berners Bay, is nearing the end of its permitting process. It is expected to start production next year and employ about 200 people.
Kensington counts as an existing mine, according to Hackney. It comes in at 322 acres in the current plan, well under the 640-acre threshold.
Coeur's properties at Kensington and the next-door Jualin consist of more than 15,000 acres of patented and unpatented federal and state mining claims, according to its Web site.
Art Hackney, a main sponsor of the ballot initiative, said the ballot measure won't affect Juneau's mines. He said the measure targets the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay.
The measure seeks to ban discharge of harmful amounts of toxic substances into salmon streams - but only for mines larger than 640 acres. Both Kensington and Greens Creek are smaller than the threshold.
Campaigns against the measure say new facilities for existing mines might be endangered. But those are "clearly grandfathered in," Hackney said. "It's as clear as it could possibly get."
His group, Alaskans for Clean Water, has said this so many times in the campaign, he said, that "We'd be called into court on their behalf if they had an issue with that."
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