- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Canadian government is allowing a proposed open-pit mine near the southeast Alaska border to advance.

Canada’s Ministry of the Environment on Friday found the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account.

The project, known as the KSM, is in northwest British Columbia. It is northeast of Ketchikan and east of Wrangell.

Brent Murphy of mine owner Seabridge Gold said the project has won approval of the provincial and federal governments and can move ahead with permitting. Already, the project has about 100 of the 150 permits it needs, he said.

But he said construction won’t start until the project gets more permits and substantial financial backing. Investors are being sought to develop the proposed $5.3-billion mine, CoastAlaska reported (https://bit.ly/13s9xFU ).

The next big regulatory hurdle will be a permit needed to construct a water storage dam and associated water-management infrastructure, he said.

The KSM is a proposed copper, gold, silver and molybdenum mine upstream of rivers that enter the ocean within about 50 miles of Ketchikan.

Southeast Alaska fisheries, tribal, municipal and environmental groups oppose the development, fearing the mine would pollute those rivers and harm salmon.

Carrie James, who co-chairs Southeast’s United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group, said she was disappointed in the Canadian government’s decision. But she said it wouldn’t stop opponents, who will keep fighting the project.

Opponents are asking President Barack Obama’s administration to pressure Canada to use more stringent permitting standards.

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