The Board of Game deferred a proposal to create a wildlife refuge around the Tangle Lakes area at its meeting last week in Anchorage.
The board will take up the proposal again at its spring 2008 meeting.
The Copper Basin Advisory Committee, which advises the Board of Game on regional matters in the area, submitted the proposal, which aimed to outlaw hard rock mining on roughly 150,000 acres of state land and water in the area.
Ruth McHenry, with the nonprofit Copper Country Alliance, testified before the Board of Game about the need to protect the Nelchina Caribou Herd around Tangle Lakes from mining activity.
"I feel pretty good about it," McHenry said about the board's decision to push off a decision on the proposal, "because what I'm hearing is that the board is very interested in the concept of having the refuge there."
Nevada Star Resource Corp., a Vancouver-based mining company, has spent $14 million to date exploring the possibilities of the MAN Alaska Project, a proposed nickel mine in the area.
The company is in the process of transferring its interest in the project to another mining company, Pure Nickel, Inc.
Pure Nickel shareholders already approved the transaction, and Nevada Star shareholders will vote on March 27, before the Board of Game meets again to discuss the proposal.
"I think that will make the shareholders more comfortable that there's been a reaction of some sort," Nevada Star CEO Robert Angrisano said about the decision to defer. "It's not the reaction we would have like to have seen, but it's not a negative one either."
The Board of Game makes recommendations on wildlife issues to the state Legislature.
Contact staff writer Eric Lidji at 459-7504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.