Focus on tailings, end Kensington dispute

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I was heartened to read that Coeur Alaska reached a tentative agreement concerning tailings disposal with the three environmental organizations that had sued to stop the Kensington Mine.

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Kensington is a project that respects the environment and has provided many Alaska Natives with dignified and well-paying employment. The basic human right to earn a decent living is involved here. It is something those of us in the Alaska Native community take very seriously.

I would never support a project that threatened subsistence or the environment, regardless of the employment opportunities, but this is not what the fight is about. Juneau is built on rock from local mines. The sand at Sandy Beach in Douglas is composed of tailings. I've followed the development of Kensington for more than 12 years and can say with certainty the only thing toxic about the project, until recently, has been the exchange of words.

I suspect the environmental groups were unaware of how importantly we take such employment opportunities. For the sake of continuing our mutual efforts to protect subsistence resources, I encourage the environmentalists to focus on tailings disposal, to not bring up any new issues and bring the negotiations to a close so people can get back to work at the mine.

Harold P. Martin

President, Kake Tribal Corp.


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