Resource Development Council

RDC Comment Letter:
Greens Creek Tailings Facility Expansion

November 9, 2010

Admiralty Island National Monument
Tongass National Forest
ATTN: Greens Creek Tailings Expansion
8510 Mendenhall Loop Road
Juneau, AK 99801

To Whom It May Concern:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) writes to express support for the expansion of the tailings facility at the Greens Creek Mine.

RDC is a statewide business association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, forest products, tourism and fisheries industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native Corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. 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 Greens Creek Mine has been in operation for over 20 years. At the time of its opening, it was estimated to have proven reserves of 10 years. Since that time, significant new reserves have been discovered, and metal prices have steadily increased, both of which have greatly prolonged the life of the mine. To allow for continued operation, additional tailings storage will be required beyond what was originally permitted and constructed. The current tailings facility at Greens Creek is a “dry-stack” disposal, permitted as recently as 2003. At Greens Creek, the dry stack technique is considered to allow for less disturbance than alternative methods.

The current facility will sufficiently accommodate tailings disposal until 2014. However, expansion is necessary to accommodate additional tailings beyond 2014. The expansion would transition the facility to a long-term operation, assuming production from the mine for up to 50 additional years. Additionally, as the tailings facility is expanded, Hecla would have the ability to begin reclamation inside the current facility where possible.

Hecla Greens Creek Mine is the largest private sector employer in Southeast Alaska, providing for 330 jobs and over $32 million in wages and benefits. The mine is a significant state and local taxpayer and facilitates workforce development partnerships, as well as contributes to area charities and nonprofits. Suffice it to say, the Greens Creek Mine is good for the community and state it operates in. Therefore, RDC wholeheartedly endorses the expansion of the tailings facility at the Greens Creek Mine. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.

Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.