Red Dog mine owner Teck reaches tax deal with borough

A contentious dispute over taxes is close to resolution between Teck Alaska, operator of the Red Dog Mine north of Kotzebue and the North West Arctic Borough.

A new payment-in-lieu-of-tax, or PILT, has been agreed to by Teck and borough administrators, and is expected to be approved by the North West Arctic Borough assembly. It would result in payments to the borough ranging from $18 million to $26 million per year for 10 years.

According to Teck’s annual financial filing, the new PILT will be about 30 percent larger than the last agreement.

Minerals prices rebounding, but jobs still off from 2012 highs

Alaska saw a dip in mining jobs during 2016, numbers attributed to losses in the oil patch as well as hard rock mines when commodities prices took a dive.

Employment numbers are tallied in different ways by various agencies. Alaska Department of Labor statistics show Alaska went from 17,400 mining jobs in 2015 to 14,200 jobs in 2016.

That number lumped in petroleum jobs, said Alaska Economist Neal Fried, with “mom and pop” placer mines and large entities such as Usibelli coal.

Habitat bill draws attention, but won’t get vote this year

JUNEAU — It is already being dubbed, “fish first, nothing else.”

Reps. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, and Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, have introduced a bill that would set up a new fisheries habitat permitting system, to be administered by the state Department of Fish and Game, for construction projects that affect waterways.

Critics say the legislation would add serious burdens to environmental permit systems that are complicated enough, and set standards that many development projects will be unable to meet.

DNR approves Pebble permit, with conditions

Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack approved Pebble Limited Partnership’s long-awaited land-use permit April 11 with stipulations that include a $2 million bond to backstop exploration cleanup.

The permit is for 12 months; Pebble had sought a permit through 2018.

Pebble applied for the miscellaneous land-use permit, or MLUP, last Oct. 13. MLUP approval for most activities is often little more than a formality, but next to nothing about Pebble is normal either, from the size of the project to the fervor it generates.

PacRim owners shelve Chuitna coal mine plans

PacRim Coal’s plan for a 12.5 million-tons per year export coal mine has been put on hold, very likely ending work to develop the mine that has spanned decades.

PacRim, an affiliate of Dallas-based Hunt Oil Co., has withdrawn from a lengthy quest for regulatory approvals for its Chuitna Coal Project, a spokesman said.

The project is in the Beluga coalfields on the west side of Cook Inlet, 50 miles west of Anchorage.

Graphite mining company considering plant on peninsula

Kenai, Homer and Seward are up for consideration as sites for a new graphite processing plant.

A Vancouver-based company is working on plans to develop Alaska’s sole graphite find, located on the Seward Peninsula about 37 miles north of Nome. Part of the development plan includes a value-added manufacturing facility to process the raw graphite from the mine into coated spherical graphite for lithium-ion electric vehicles batteries and other products.

Pebble, EPA pushing to settle lawsuit

With the sides reportedly closing in on a settlement, an Alaska federal judge agreed to hit pause on Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency one more time.

On March 20 U.S. District Court of Alaska Judge H. Russel Holland signed an order to stay proceedings in the suit until May 4, the deadline by which he expects Pebble and the EPA to have reached a deal to close the case, the order states.

Permitting process starts for Ambler road

Development of the Ambler Mining District road project is now in federal hands.

The Bureau of Land Management issued a Federal Register notice Feb. 28 requesting public input regarding what topics the agency should consider in drafting the environmental impact statement, or EIS, for the mining access road.

Northern Dynasty calls critical report ‘misleading’

The owners of the Pebble mine project fired back Friday against claims from a New York stock investment firm that the prospect is not economically or politically viable.

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. called the Feb. 14 report from Kerrisdale Capital Management — which holds a short position in Northern Dynasty and could benefit from its stock value dropping — “unfounded” and “unsupported speculation.”

Report: Pebble shares are ‘worthless’

A New York investment firm tore apart claims by the owners of the Pebble mine project that developing the prospect is economically viable in a no-holds-barred report released Feb. 14.

Graphite prospect near Nome holds big potential

There is ample development potential in Alaska’s lone graphite prospect, according to a preliminary economic report on the mine venture.

The Graphite Creek flake graphite deposit near Nome is being pursued by Vancouver-based Graphite One Resources. A preliminary economic assessment of the resource and Graphite One’s plans to extract and process it found the project could have a value to investors of more than $1 billion and a payback period of just four years.

Legislation filed to require commissioner consensus on Pebble

JUNEAU — A measure intended to add roadblocks for Pebble mine got its first hearing Jan. 31 in the Legislature.

House Bill 14, proposed by Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, would require the Legislature to approve any permitting documents or authorizations for mines within the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve.

Pebble Mine, proposed for the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, is within the reserve.

Speaking to the House Special Committee on Fisheries, Josephson said his goal was to strengthen a ballot initiative passed by voters in 2014.

Chugach Alaska Corp. makes California carbon credit deal

ANCHORAGE (AP) — An undeveloped Alaska coal field, California’s offsets for carbon pollution and thousands of acres of forest are the unlikely players in a complex agreement that is expected to generate millions for an Alaska Native organization.

The agreement protects the land from development and sets up financial benefits for the Chugach Alaska Corp., a regional Alaska Native corporation representing 2,500 Aleut, Eskimo and Indian shareholders around Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Many largely rely on commercial fisheries and a subsistence lifestyle.

Pebble revived: Owner plans to file for permits in 2017

Alaskans are used to seeing apocalyptic images about the Pebble mine.

TV ads opposing the large copper-gold prospect near Iliamna cast images of toxic sludge cascading down mountain valleys into Bristol Bay, killing all the salmon.

Is the hype shoe now on the other foot?

It’s jarring, but sponsored-content pitches are now showing up on mainstream Internet sites touting Pebble, posted not by owner Northern Dynasty but by people touting Pebble’s stock.

Silver, gold production steady in Southeast

The metal mines of Southeast Alaska had consistent and positive production in 2016, according to year-end results released by the operating companies.

Hecla Mining Co. reported Jan. 10 that its Greens Creek underground, primarily silver mine on Admiralty Island west of Juneau produced 9.3 million ounces of silver during the year, the highest production level since the company took full ownership of the mine in 2008.

State, Doyon, miners opposed to Eastern Interior plan

The State of Alaska and mining proponents are once again at odds with Bureau of Land Management; this time the dispute is over the agency’s updated plan to manage 6.5 million acres of federal lands in Eastern Alaska.

On Jan. 5 BLM released the decision documents to its Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan that would keep approximately 4.8 million federal acres off-limits to development, namely mining in the region known for gold production.

British Columbia to clean up mine near Juneau

JUNEAU — Canadian officials say they will take action to prevent polluted water from a decades-old mine from entering the Taku River, a key source of salmon caught in southeast Alaska.

British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett told CoastAlaska News experts will explore different options, including plugging leaking tunnels from the defunct Tulsequah Chief Mine. The acidic water has been carrying pollutants into the Tulsequah River, which is a tributary of the Taku near Juneau.

Year in Review: Mining

Alaskans worried about the potential impact of upstream Canadian mines on Southeast Alaska fisheries officially got their voices heard by the State Department after years of asking for federal intervention.

An assistant secretary of state wrote in an October letter to the Alaska congressional delegation that the State Department is actively engaged with Canadian officials to protect the “transboundary” watersheds that bisect the U.S.-Canada border along Southeast Alaska.

Mining at Ambler district advances, as does road

After a brief timeout in 2015 for monetary considerations, progress is being made on both ends towards development of the metal-rich Ambler mining district.

Trilogy Metals Inc., formerly NovaCopper Inc., is in the midst of evaluating the results from its $5.5 million 2016 summer drilling program at its Northwest Alaska prospect.

While any drilling that contacts the metal veins helps further define the resource base, Trilogy Metals CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse said in an interview that the recent work focused on gathering pre-permitting environmental and engineering data.

Pebble suits proceeding; DNR rebuts reclamation report

Pebble Limited Partnership is asking for legal fees to wrap up one lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and hopes to settle another out of court.

The company pursuing the embattled massive copper and gold mining project in the Bristol Bay area filed a motion in U.S. District Court of Alaska Nov. 22 to recover $227,056 in attorneys’ fees stemming from a suit filed in October 2014 in which Pebble claimed the EPA withheld documents after a Freedom of Information Act request.


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