Progress slows on mine project near Haines

A view up Glacier Creek towards Saksaia Glacier and the mountains that hold copper-zine-silver-gold-barite deposits that Constantine Metal Resources is planning to mine. (Photo by Claire Stremple/KHNS)

Drillers are usually on the mountain at the Palmer Project north of Haines 24 hours a day seven days a week by mid-summer.

But this year, Constantine Metal Resources announced a belated and quiet work season. The Canadian metals company has no plans to drill at the mine project this summer.

Since exploration began in 2006, that’s only happened twice before: in 2011 and 2012.

It means there are far fewer workers at the project this year.

Last summer, the Canadian metals company employed about 60 people, roughly half of them locals. This year, it has just one full-time and three part-time employees. The company may make additional hires, according to staff.

Its vice president will also step down, but remain with the company as a part-time consultant. The company did not announce a replacement.

And, no drilling means the company is spending less money on the Southeast project this year compared to 2019. Still, it’s leaning on its Japanese partner company to help finance the roughly $2 million price tag for summer work. The company will sacrifice equity in exchange for the cash.

RELATED: The Palmer Project, a mining prospect outside Haines, could transform into a large-scale operation

The Palmer Project promises to be a diverse metals mine with copper, gold, zinc, silver, and barite. Critics argue that mining could harm the nearby Chilkat River’s salmon run, but many residents hope a metals mine could bring high paying jobs to the region. 

Field work this year will include surface evaluation of new prospects, surface mapping, core logging and selected sampling. The company will prepare five acres of land for future underground exploration.

Even though the company has state permits to begin construction of a large underground tunnel at the site, it will not begin that construction this year. The permits for Constantine’s underground exploration are valid while under review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

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