Watershed Research and Restoration

Palmer Mine Project Monitoring

In April 2019, Constantine Mining LLC of Vancouver Canada applied for State of Alaska development permits which would allow the construction of a 1.25-mile-long mine access tunnel, a wastewater treatment facility and a potentially acid-generating (PAG) waste rock dump.  The Takshanuk Watershed Council submitted comments on this permit application to the Alaska Departments of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources (ADEC, ADNR), as well as to the Haines Borough.

    View TWC's letter to ADEC and ADNR Requesting an Informal Agency Review of the Decision to Issue 

         Waste Management Permit to Constantine - August 2019

    View TWC's letter to ADEC and ADNR - May 2019

    View TWC's letter to the Haines Borough Assembly - May 2019

Of primary concern to TWC is the fact that once tunnel excavation begins, and wastewater starts flowing from the tunnel entrance, it will be very difficult to stop.  There are ancient Roman mine sites in Britain, for example, that are still generating acid mine drainage today (https://eic.rsc.org/feature/acid-mine-drainage-a-legacy-of-an-industrial-past/2020087.article).  Metals and other pollutants coming from a mine can negatively affect fish and other aquatic organisms in a variety of ways.  Copper is particularly damaging to salmon because it impairs their ability to find their natal spawning grounds, and it also reduces the ability of juvenile fish to avoid predators. 

 

In its permit application documents, Constantine predicts that the water coming from their tunnel  will not meet ADEC water quality standards, and the Waste Management Permit allows the discharge of those contaminants underground via a Land Application Disposal (LAD) system (see figure below).  The ADEC Waste Management Permit is assuming that this contamination will disappear into the ground and will not enter surface or ground water.  However, this assumption is not supported by the information provided by Constantine in their permit application.  Due to the local geology, this contaminated water is likely to immediately enter both ground and surface water.  When ground and surface waters are to be impacted by a wastewater discharge, then an Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) permit is required.  In not acknowledging the likelihood of a discharge to water, ADEC is allowing Constantine to avoid the more thorough environmental review process of acquiring an APDES permit.

 

It is TWC’s position that discharge of wastewater to surface water is likely, and this contention is supported by the mining company’s own studies as presented in the permit application documents, therefore an APDES permit is required.

From Constantine Mining's Phase 2 Plan of Operations

More than 200 public comments were submitted during the comment period which closed on May 30.  In July, ADEC issued the Waste Management Permit, ADNR approved the Reclamation Plan, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust approved the Phase 2 Plan of Operations.  A request for agency review of the ADEC permit was filed by a number of individuals and organizations and is currently in process.  Constantine has suspended operations for the remainder of the 2019 season.

From Constantine Mining's Phase 2 Plan of Operations

Support for this project has been provided by

Thank You!          Gunalchéesh!

Takshanuk Watershed Council
HC 60 Box 2008
Haines, AK 99827
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Phone:  (907) 766-3542
Email:   info@takshanuk.org

© 2020 Takshanuk Watershed Council