Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/30/1998 04:07 PM RLS
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 state. 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.