Goldbelt wants to work with Coeur if mine comes on line

Options include giving mining firm a land lease, allowing construction of terminal

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2001

If the Kensington gold mine planned for 45 miles north of downtown Juneau becomes a reality, Goldbelt Inc. wants to be involved, officials said.

"We are very much in favor of the development of the mine and look forward to supporting it," said Gary Droubay, president and chief executive officer of Juneau's urban Native corporation.

Goldbelt has title to 1,700 acres on both sides of Echo Cove, property that could support a state ferry landing for access to northern Lynn Canal or a marine terminal of sufficient size to support a gold mine near Berners Bay, Droubay said.

"We would basically give Coeur Alaska Inc. a land lease and let them construct a terminal," he said, referring to the mining company that hopes to work the Kensington lode.

Coeur recently announced a new plan to open the mine for gold and other ore. A plan that received its environmental permits by 1998 was shelved because the expense of development and operation was greater than anticipated gold prices allowed, the company has said.

To reduce expenditures, Coeur currently plans not to build an on-site work camp for 250 but to bus and boat workers to the site daily.

"We have a memorandum of agreement with Coeur that when they proceed with the mine, we would support a marine facility for deployment (of construction materials, miners and supplies) from the end of the existing road to Cascade Point," Droubay said, "and we have a right-of-way approved for a road."

The distance from the end of the existing highway to Cascade Point is about two miles. The road would be gravel if it were to support a deployment facility only, or could be paved if it were to support an Alaska Marine Highway System ferry operation.

Coeur has suggested it could get environmental permits to proceed in 12 to 14 months.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.



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