Native leaders oppose expansion of the Red Dog Mine's port, saying it would harm subsistence hunting for whales and other sea mammals in the Chukchi Sea. Tribal Council President David Swan said the current port has disrupted migration routes and feeding grounds of bearded seal, beluga and bowhead whales. "Once we lose those animals, we'll never be the same" Cominco Alaska Inc. wants to expand the port to accommodate oceangoing ships. Kivalina, 15 miles northwest on the Chukchi Sea coast, is the village nearest the world's largest zinc mine. Cominco wants to increase production of zinc and lead. The Canadian-based company would dredge a 50-foot-deep channel out from the beach about a mile into the Chukchi Sea. It hopes to start the project in 2003. A consultant said expansion would actually reduce the traffic at the port, eliminating the need for barges to make multiple trips to ships anchored in deeper water. The council claims NANA Regional Corp., which owns the mine and leases it to Cominco, ignores village concerns. NANA officials say they have gone out of their way to include Kivalina in discussions about Red Dog. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began an environmental impact study in February on how the project would affect subsistence.