October 15, 2007
Project Manager OWW-135
U.S. EPA Region 10
1200 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98101
Re: Red Dog Mine Extension-Aqqaluk Project in Northwestern Alaska
Dear Ms. McGrath:
The Resource Development Council (RDC) appreciates the opportunity to comment during the scoping phase for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Red Dog Mine Extension Aqqaluk Project in Northwestern Alaska.
RDC is a statewide organization made up of all resource sectors, business associations, labor unions, Alaska Native corporations, tourism providers, local governments and individuals. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.
The Red Dog mine, operated by Teck Cominco, is one of the largest employers in the NANA region, with the majority of employees being NANA Regional Corporation shareholders. The mine has not only been beneficial to NANA, but the shared wealth provision of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act directs that 70% of production royalty payments to NANA be redistributed to the other Regional Corporations in Alaska. In addition, the mine remains the sole taxpayer in the Northwest Arctic Borough. We encourage the EPA to fully analyze the significant positive impacts, both socially and economically, the project has had, and will continue to have on the region and throughout the state of Alaska.
Additionally, we believe the recent withdrawal of the water-pollution discharge permit by the EPA should be addressed separately from the Aqqaluk extension. The permit, issued in March, brought the mine into compliance with federal water quality requirements. Reviewing the permit with the SEIS could take many additional years, and therefore be detrimental to the project.
The mine has been described as a model of responsible resource development, founded on the principles of consensus, cooperation and mutual respect between a mining company and indigenous people. It is predicted that the original Red Dog site will be mined out between 2010 and 2012. Opening of the Aqqaluk addition is expected to extend the mine life to 2031, providing opportunity to sustain a successful partnership.
In conclusion, RDC supports a quick permitting process that leads ultimately to the opening of Aqqaluk. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Resource Development Council