From quality of workmanship to community support and more, Coeur Alaska's experience to date with the Kensington Mine project in Southeast Alaska has been golden. According to Coeur Alaska's vice president and general manager, Timothy Arnold, at this point the Southeast experience has surpassed the mining corporation's prospects. "People here have exceeded our expectations," he said.
Arnold has worked in underground mining most of his life. He began mining in 1976 and graduated from the University of Idaho in 1982. The mining engineer's been a part of the multi-award-winning Coeur d' Alene Mines Corp. (CDM)--Coeur Alaska's parent company--for around five years, serving as vice president and general manager of CDM's Rochester Mine in Nevada for 2 1/2 years before transferring to the Kensington venture about three years ago. "It's a fun project," Arnold said of the Southeast Alaska gold development.
Essentially, the Kensington mining plan consists of four stages: permitting, construction, operation and reclamation. Three different Environmental Impact Studies (EISs) have been completed on the project since 1987, but the permitting process for the most recent plan was completed in 2005, and now the project has all its necessary permits in place--nearly 60 environmental and regulatory permits in all. The goal is to begin operations toward the end of this year, and with construction about halfway completed at this point, the project is on target.
Since July 2005, Coeur has spent more than $100 million on construction costs alone. At this point, the mill building and the crusher building are constructed and enclosed, and the facilities are now in the process of being filled with equipment. The mine will use its on-site floatation mill to produce concentrate that will be shipped elsewhere for processing. This means that harsh chemicals, such as cyanide, will not be used at the mill.
The underground Kensington Gold Mine is located on the east side of the Lynn Canal, about 45 miles north-northwest of Juneau. Kensington's processing facilities are located 980 feet above sea level. Ore will be received from the underground mine by 40-ton trucks. At this time, the company is also working underground, driving a tunnel so that ore can be brought from the west side of the project to the east side where the mill facility is situated. While construction crews essentially live in a camp situation, the final plan allows for mining employees to...