Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/30/1998 04:07 PM RLS

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 56 - YTTRIUM MINING                                                        
Number 450                                                                     
CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the next order of business would be HJR 56,            
"Relating to yttrium mining and transfer of the linear induction               
motor research vehicle to Alaska."                                             
DOUG SALIK, Intern to Representative Bill Hudson, Alaska State                 
Legislature, came before the committee to explain HJR 56.  He                  
stated that the legislation urges the Federal Railroad                         
Administration to transfer the linear induction motor research                 
vehicle (LIMRV) to the state of Alaska.  This transfer will allow              
for potential development of new industrial and research businesses            
in Alaska.  The development the yttrium, a rare earth element,                 
could revitalize the Ketchikan area after the loss of the pulp mill            
in that area.                                                                  
MR. SALIK said local employment in mining refining as well as                  
converting the LIMRV would be used by the Power Superconducter                 
Application Corporation.  He noted there is a picture of the LIMRV             
in the member's files.  Mr. Salik pointed out that state funding is            
not requested at this time for any industrial development by the               
company.  The transfer of the LIMRV could provide opportunities for            
economic growth and development in this area as well as for the                
MR. SALIK explained the proposed committee substitute, Version E,              
would make two changes.  One is the removal of specific community              
names.  The removal was requested to allow other Southeast                     
communities to be involved in the manufacturing and industrial                 
development as well as the communities that were previously named.             
Mr. Salik stated that the second change was related to the removal             
of references to any mining activities.  The change was made                   
because of the safety concerns mentioned by the community of                   
Metlakata in the mining of yttrium.  He thanked the committee for              
considering the bill.                                                          
Number 484                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he has CSHJR 56, Version E, and                      
questioned if it is the correct version before the committee.                  
MR. SALIK pointed out the original version was Version A and                   
Version E is the proposed committee substitute.  He again                      
reiterated the changes.                                                        
Number 498                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS moved to adopt CSHJR 56, Version E, Glover,            
dated 3/23/98.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY objected.  He said he can see some merit in               
taking out names of communities.  He asked, "Why in the world are              
we even entertaining this resolution if we're taking out reference             
to mining?  Rare earth happens to be just that.  They are rare                 
earths and Alaska has the only known deposits in North America.                
Mr. Chairman, I think this is great resolution, but if we're going             
to take out the best parts of it, let's just not deal with it.                 
Let's just let it die."                                                        
CHAIRMAN KOTT said not all the issues dealing with mining are being            
deleted as mining is still contained in the title.                             
MR. SALIK explained the reason that there is the removal of mining             
in Version E was to speed the resolution along.  The company along             
with the federal government felt that the mining activity would                
come along, but it would take approximately five years to do so                
with all the federal regulations.  Mr. Salik said it is his                    
understanding that yttrium is found in quantities that are  closely            
associated with uranium and thorium which are radio active.  The               
permitting process on that would take awhile.  In order to speed               
the resolution along, to get the LIMRV to Alaska and to create                 
these jobs as soon as possible, the city of Craig and the Power                
Superconducter Applications Corporation made the proposal asking               
for the removal of the mining so that the project could begin as               
soon as possible.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY noted he didn't have Version A.  He stated                
that he assumes what was deleted was a reference to the potential              
for a very valuable mining operation to the state of Alaska.  He               
said he finds it offensive that mining is being deleted.                       
Representative Vezey said he would like to stay with Version A.                
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS said he is familiar with the mining area               
and said he would assume that it will take four or five years.                 
REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he would withdraw his objection.                     
Number 552                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS said she reads the changes as not opposing             
mining at all.  She said it means expediting the process of getting            
the vehicle here so that things can begin.                                     
REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS added, "So that we can show them, Mr.                  
Chairman, that yttrium is needed."                                             
MR. SALIK said that is correct.  It is more for the expedience                 
factor rather than the removal of mining.  He noted they are still             
very much in favor of the mining.                                              
REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS said without the mining, there won't be any            
yttrium produced.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said the information he has regarding yttrium             
is that currently the primary source is China.                                 
MR. SALIK said he believes that is correct along with Russia.                  
REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated that he believes the largest supplier              
currently is China and the ore sells for $85 a pound.  As stated in            
the bill, the refined product is 99.99999 pure product at $25,000              
an ounce.                                                                      
CHAIRMAN KOTT stated that there is a motion to adopt the proposed              
committee substitute and asked if there is an objection.  There                
being none, CSHJR 56(RLS) was before the committee.                            
Number 575                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS made a motion to move CSHJR 56(RLS),                   
Version E, Glover, dated 3/23/98, out of committee with individual             
recommendations and with the accompanying zero fiscal note.  There             
being no objection, CSHJR 56(RLS) moved out of the House Rules                 
Standing Committee.                                                            

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