Wild Border Watersheds

PROJECT: Palmer

A mineral exploration project upstream from wild salmon spawning and rearing habitat and Alaska's Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Photo Credit: Johnathan.s.kt

Overview

Project Map

The Palmer Project, proposed by Constantine Metals is located 60 km/38 miles upstream from Haines, Alaska, in the vicinity of historic placer gold mining. The company has referred to the project as “North America’s next major massive sulfide find”, and hopes that a drilling exploration program will reveal a mineral deposit that will turn into a high-grade, underground copper-zinc-gold-silver mine. The deposit is across the Klehini River, a primary tributary of the Chilkat River, and adjacent to the Haines Highway, which terminates at the deep-water port at Haines, from which ore concentrate would be shipped to Asia for smelting. Constantine Metals has signed a draft, joint-venture agreement with Dowa Metals and Mining Co. of Japan to help finance continued mineral exploration.

Impacts

The Chilkat watershed sustains high value rearing and spawning areas for all five species of Pacific salmon. A combination of late autumn salmon runs and an unusual upwelling of warm water, keeping part of the Chilkat open after other area waters freeze, attracts the largest seasonal gathering of Bald eagles in the world.  The 49,000 acres Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, just downstream from the Palmer Project site, was established in 1982 to “preserve and perpetuate the Chilkat Bald eagles and their essential habitats in recognition of their internationally significant values in perpetuity.”  The Palmer Project has the potential for acid mine generation, which could leach heavy metals into salmon habitat in the Chilkat watershed, imperiling some of the most productive wild salmon spawning and rearing habitat in all of southeast Alaska.

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