Teck Alaska will proceed with the development of the Aqqaluk Deposit at its Red Dog Mine in Northwest Alaska. Teck’s decision to proceed with Aqqaluk follows discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning the status of the renewal of Red Dog’s main water discharge permit, and an internal review of the company’s operating plans for the deposit.
“Our discussions with EPA have been constructive, and after carefully considering the environment, our employees, and local communities, we are proceeding with Aqqaluk,” said Mike Bonneau, General Manager of Teck Alaska. “We will continue to maintain a water discharge that is protective of water quality and the environment.”
Bonneau pointed out that Teck has the necessary permits and authorizations in place to develop Aqqaluk. In 2010, a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) conducted by EPA concluded that the proposed discharge limits contained in a new water discharge permit for Red Dog were protective of the environment.
However, there is an outstanding administrative appeal of certain conditions of the new water discharge permit. In response to the appeal, EPA has withdrawn five contested limitations in the permit and has stated its intent to conduct an updated permit proceeding once certain procedural matters are addressed.
The appeal of the 2010 water discharge permit and the withdrawal of the contested limits do not affect the Aqqaluk development, Bonneau said.
Until the appeals of the 2010 water discharge permit are resolved, and EPA’s proposed 2010 permit limits are in full effect, Teck will be subject to the applicable limits in its 1998 permit. As previously disclosed, these limits include a standard on total dissolved solids which cannot feasibly be met through any existing treatment technology at the volumes being discharged. Teck will discharge water in accordance with the court-approved interim discharge limits contained in a 2008 settlement agreement, which correspond to the limits found in the SEIS to be protective of the environment.
Bonneau believes there is a viable plan in place to resolve the 2010 permit appeal and will ontinue to work with regulators moving forward.
Teck has already developed plans for the initial work on the deposit, which got underway in late May.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank each and every one of Red Dog’s Teck, NMS and NANA/Lynden employees for their patience and understanding during this difficult period,” Bonneau said. “It demonstrated a strong and committed workforce that they should be proud to be part of.”
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