A light action agenda is in front of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, but scheduled presentations will fill out Monday’s meeting.
The Assembly will hear from Randy MacGillivray of Ucore Rare Metals, Inc., about that company’s proposed rare-earth processing facility in Ketchikan. MacGillivray on Thursday gave a similar presentation to the Ketchikan City Council.
He says Canada-based Ucore hopes to start operations in Ketchikan by 2020. When asked why Ketchikan was chosen for the facility, he said an established processing facility would help the company move forward with its development of the Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earth mine on Prince of Wales Island.
“It’s a little unique. It’s innovative to build the mill before you build the mine, but it’s necessary for us to do that,” he told the council. “What we feel is that if we can get into the industry, start producing rare earth products here in Ketchikan, it’s a stepping stone for us to be able then to develop the mine more quickly.”
Until the Bokan mine is operational, Ucore would ship raw product in for processing. MacGillivray said waste would be minimal, and any waste that is produced would be shipped off-island for disposal.
Rare earth minerals are used in products such as cell phones. Most rare earth minerals now come from China.
Ucore recently received a letter of support from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority regarding the company’s use of state funding. That approved $145 million would back loans to build the plant.
Ucore has selected two parcels of land off North Tongass Highway for the facility. MacGillivray said that Ucore is still in the planning stages and has not yet committed to purchase those parcels. If everything works out, he says the facility eventually will employ about 24 people.
Also on Monday, the Assembly will hear from Ketchikan Public Library Director Pat Tully with an update on the library’s strategic plan, and will hear its regular report from the Ketchikan School Board.
The only action item under new business is a resolution establishing criteria for waiving certain zoning fees for after-the-fact permit applications. After-the-fact fees are charged on top of regular permit fees if a property owner has completed a project before receiving a needed permit.
Through the resolution, a waiver of after-the-fact fees would be allowed if the violation happened before the current owner took control of the property, and the violation was not disclosed before purchase.
Monday’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in borough assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.