Gold mining company Coeur d'Alene Mines has been given the go-ahead by the US Supreme Court to dump debris from the Kensington gold mine near Juneau, Alaska, into a nearby lake, following a long battle with local environmentalists.
The ruling stated that the waste created during metals extraction is fill material rather than pollution, which will allow the company to dump the debris without clearing the requirements of the Clean Water Act.
The mine operators plan to use a technique that over the life of the mine will dump about 4.5 million tons of sandy crushed rock - mixed with water and laced with aluminium, copper, lead and mercury - into a small but deep mountain lake.
Environmentalists argue that dumping waste in the area will kill aquatic life in the 23-acre Lower Slate Lake.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has hailed the court decision and said the mine, which is currently closed, will create 370 jobs when it reopens, writes the Los Angeles Times.
The company is set to restart operations at the mine soon, which has been closed since 1928.