Opinion: Native community depends on future of mine
"My Inupiaq family has lived in the northwest Arctic for generations. I am a NANA shareholder and I am employed by Teck Alaska at Red Dog zinc and lead mine. That makes me the landowner and the operator. This land has provided sustenance for my people for generations and we continue to live off this land today. Red Dog has become our modern-day harvest as it is the livelihood for me and many others. We Inupiaq are in the best position to ensure that our land is well cared for as we develop its natural bounty for our much-needed economic benefit.

I take very seriously our responsibility of stewardship of the land, animals and waters. I am not an expert in environmental, biological or mineral studies; however, being on the inside, I know that Red Dog holds itself to a high standard of environmental care.

After 20 years of mining, Red Dog's main deposit is almost mined out. For the mine to continue, we need to move operations into the adjacent Aqqaluk Deposit. Red Dog has worked for the past two years with federal, state and local agencies to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement to support the water discharge permit needed to mine Aqqaluk. The state approved the permit in mid-December and the Environmental Protection Agency issued the permit Jan. 8. Days later, though the state certified that the permit was compliant, two environmental law firms appealed the EPA's action, claiming that certain provisions were not in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Red Dog could be shut down in October if permit delays go beyond May.

More than half of our work force is from northwest Alaska, the majority of the remainder from throughout the state of Alaska, and the rest from the Lower 48 and other parts of the world."

Get the Story:
Verna Westlake: Red Dog delays threaten Inupiaq future (The Anchorage Daily News 2/25)

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