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Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell Mine Project Risk Analysis

Will Patric : Nov 12.2014

The Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) proposed mine is a massive project comprised of four deposits that would be mined as a combined open-pit and underground block-cave mine. The proposed operation is so big it would straddle two watersheds – the Unuk and the Nass – in two locations connected by twin 23-km (14 mile) long tunnels – extending under a glacier – which would transport miners and ore between the pits, and the mill and tailings impoundment. It is expected to process between 120,000 to 180,000 tonnes of ore per day over a mine life of 55 years. Opposition to the project has increased, with some analysts comparing it to the proposed Pebble Project in southwest Alaska.

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Significant risks include:

  1. Unfavorable economics – KSM’s low grade ore, remote location and lack of infrastructure make its economics problematic according to analysts.
  2. Mining under glaciers has seldom been tried and is difficult – Very few mining companies have attempted it for a mine of this size, and significant operational challenges have occurred when they have, including tragic consequences.
  3. Unprecedented water management – KSM would need to process almost 21 BILLION gallons of water per year compared to Pebble’s proposed 13 billion and the Bingham Canyon mine’s 3 billion gallons per year.
  4. Legal uncertainties – the twin tunnels run under property claimed by two other companies who are currently suing each other. Both contest Seabridge’s access rights. First Nations also have concerns about the project.
  5. International opposition – KSM is opposed by eleven U.S. federally recognized tribes, and southeast Alaska’s billion-dollar commercial fishing industry.

Check out the report!