"A former Interior Department official who abruptly resigned last month personally expedited environmental review for a 211-mile private road project across federal land that would open up a vast new copper, gold and precious metals mining district near a national park in northern Alaska, according to a company seeking to mine there.
Joseph Balash, an Alaskan who until Aug. 30 served as assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals, was the mining industry’s primary Interior contact who was responsible for expediting the Bureau of Land Management’s approval process for the road, said Patrick Donnelly, vice president of Vancouver, B.C.,-based Trilogy Metals, Inc.
The BLM is studying the environmental impact of the proposed 211-mile Ambler Road, which would provide industrial access to a 70 mile-wide belt of mountains containing copper, zinc, gold, molybdenum, and other precious metals. The bureau issued a draft environmental impact statement in August. A public comment period on the proposal ends Oct. 15. "