Sealaska Corp. plans to restart POW exploration

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Sealaska Corp. plans to resume its mineral exploration program on Prince of Wales Island, executives with the regional Native corporation said.

The Juneau-based corporation had halted the program in 2000 after a steep decline of metal prices. Sealaska, however, continued to conduct small-scale mineral assessments on its POW lands, the Juneau Empire reported Monday (http://is.gd/915g0M ).

Stronger prices and progress made on Niblack and Bokan mines on the island helped the corporation decide to restart the program, according to Rick Harris, executive vice president of Sealaska. He said mineral deposits continued to be found as the company conducted its POW timber harvesting.

"In the communities it seems there's a pretty high degree of receptivity to seeing well done mineral exploration and possible mineral development," he said. "We felt that all of these things were coming together ... so we decided that it was time to re-engage and look into our mineral properties."

Steve Buckley, Sealaska's new minerals manager, said the corporation is planning a community outreach to address concerns that could include what the impacts of the program could be.

"One of the real neat things about Southeast Alaska is fishing and mining have co-existed for over a hundred years, so part of that is trying to help explain to people how that might be managed and how you develop the mine responsibly and sustainably so that you don't impact water quality," he said. "Those are the kinds of things where we'd have to do a little education trying to get people to understand what kinds of deposits we're looking at, what those mines might look like and how we can manage the mine waste, that kind of thing."

Sealaska is aware of copper, lead, silver, and zinc deposits on its land, as well as the potential for rare earth elements, Buckley said.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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