The annual publication of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often causes confusion regarding Red Dog Operations. It’s very important to note that the data related to Red Dog Operations in the TRI is a reflection of the large volumes of rock and ore moved at the mine site, which is standard during the mining process and does not indicate any environmental effect.
Red Dog Operations is required to report the amount of materials moved at the mine site due to the high grades of zinc and lead naturally occurring in the ground. This naturally-occurring rock material does not leave the mine; and is managed in contained storage systems, under stringent state and federal permits to meet high environmental standards.
In 2017, over (99.98%) of reported releases from Red Dog in the TRI remained onsite in the waste rock and tailings storage impoundments. The permitted stormwater discharges, permitted air emissions, and offsite disposal, make up approximately (0.02%) of the TRI reported total.
It’s also important to note that mines with waste rock with metal compounds less than 1% are exempt from reporting to TRI which means many mines do not report their waste rock movement at site while Red Dog does. It is because of the naturally high ore-grade in the waste rock compared too many other mines that Red Dog is included in TRI reporting.
The Alaska Department of Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a news release further clarifying what the TRI figures represent, particularly as regard Red Dog.
The real story of the Red Dog Mine is of a strong partnership that has created quality jobs and economic opportunity, and supported local communities, all while practicing responsible environmental management under the guidance of the local Iñupiat people. Since mining began, over $1 billion has been provided to state government agencies in taxes and other payments, and more than $500 million in wages has been paid to employees living in the Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB) and to NANA Shareholders, who make up 55% of Red Dog’s workforce.