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Coeur to sell interest in Australia mine

EPA wants new look at plans in Alaska

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. will sell its interest in an Australia mine back to the owner and dedicate some of the proceeds to construction of a tailings pond at its Kensington Mine in Alaska, the company announced Thursday.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit Coeur’s plans for the mine north of Juneau.

The company in 2005 bought all the silver contained in the Broken Hill Mine. Now it will sell the contents back to Perilya Ltd. and book a $23.2 million gain on the sale.

Coeur said it has earned profits of $48.7 million on the sale of silver from Broken Hill since 2005.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court gave Idaho-based Coeur the go-ahead to dump waste from the Kensington mine into nearby Slate Lake, EPA regional official Michael Gearheard sent a letter this week asking the corps to look at an alternative method for handling the tailings. The EPA estimates the re-evaluation will take eight months.

Construction at the mine has been on hold since 2006.

Coeur spokesman Tony Ebersole told the Juneau Empire that the EPA letter is “really unbelievable.”

He said that permitting of the plan to dispose of tailings in the lake took nine years and that federal and state agencies all supported it.

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