Alaska withdraws mine application

STATE officials have put plans for an Alaska surface strip and underground coal mine on hold by withdrawing a decision to renew the project’s development permit due to a procedural issue.
Alaska withdraws mine application Alaska withdraws mine application Alaska withdraws mine application Alaska withdraws mine application Alaska withdraws mine application

A map of the Jonesville coal project in Alaska. Courtesy Black Range Minerals.

Donna Schmidt

According to the Associated Press, Colorado-based Ranger Alaska submitted the renewal for the Jonesville mine but has found it has to respond to comment from the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, an Alaska Natives group that has spent more than $US1 million to restore mining-damaged salmon streams.

Chickaloon tribe attorney Geoffrey Stauffer told the news service the Department of Natural Resources did not properly respond to public comments about the mine, and the group maintains that Ranger Alaska should have been required to submit a new permit.

Doing such, the tribe noted, would have required the project be re-examined, taking into account the restoration work the tribe had done to date.

"We think there is a lot of information that is just missing," Stauffer told the AP.

The tribe, pleased with the withdrawal decision, now hopes the DNR will "fully take our concerns into account in the future when considering coal developments in sensitive and traditional tribal areas," traditional chief Gary Harrison said.

DNR coal regulatory program manager Russell Kirkham said the agency had been responsive to concerns brought forth, not just from the tribe, but also from other environmental groups who opposed the project.

"We are doing our best to address the concerns of the community and meet with the community as much as possible," he told the AP.

Ranger Alaska is a subsidiary of Australia-based Black Range Minerals. The company acquired a 100% interest in two leases, totaling 1450 acres, making up the Jonesville project near Anchorage in December 2008.

There are 12 coal seams of thickness greater than 1 metre at Jonesville – of these, seams 3 and 5 both reach a maximum thickness of 7m, according to company data. Also, seam 5 averages 6m and seam 3 averages 4m.

The thickness of seven other coal seams averages greater than 1.5m. Seams 7b, 6 and the lower Shaw bed locally exhibit thicknesses of 6m, 3m and 3m, respectively.

The coal at the complex is a high-volatile B bituminous rank and has been used in the past for power generation. One key attribute is its low sulfur content of 0.3-0.4%, which makes it a valuable compliant coal, BRM said.

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