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Alaska's governor calls on Biden to update mine permit process

The Pebble project in Alaska

The Pebble project in Alaska

Photo by Bloomberg

21st March 2024

By: Reuters

  

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Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy called on President Joe Biden on Wednesday to update and streamline the US mine permitting process in order to boost domestic production of critical minerals and reduce dependence on foreign nations.

The push echoes calls from the mining industry for clarity on how permits can be obtained for mines that produce copper, lithium and other energy transition minerals. Executives have long complained the US process can be complex, expensive and opaque due in part to a federal mining law enacted in 1872.

"Our message to the Biden administration is, 'Do everything you can to do everything here in America. Get your permitting processes streamlined,'" Dunleavy told Reuters on the sidelines of the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

It is "somewhat nonsensical," the governor said, that Biden has pushed for greater adoption of electric vehicles - which require far more critical minerals to build than internal combustion engines - but has blocked Northern Dynasty's Pebble copper and gold mining project.

"If we don't get our permitting processes together, if we don't start to use data and science again instead of emotion, this chaos is going to continue," he said.

Dunleavy sued Biden last week for the president's 2023 decision to block Pebble. The suit seeks more than $700 billion, an amount that the governor says the state will lose in economic development without the mine. Dunleavy tried unsuccessfully last year to have the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Biden.

Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty itself sued Biden on Monday.

The proposed Pebble mine would have "unacceptable and adverse effects on certain salmon fishery areas" in Alaska's Bristol Bay, the US Environmental Protection Agency said last year.

Dunleavy said he believes the mine and the state's salmon fishers can co-exist.

"The science is there to be able to develop the mine responsibly," he said. "We can put the safeguards in, and that's why I'm a supporter."

Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Alaska's two Republican US Senators, oppose Pebble, which Dunleavy acknowledged is a hindrance.

"However, my job as the governor is to advocate for our state, advocate for the development of our state lands or minerals, and advocate for the prosperity of our people," he said.

Edited by Reuters

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