Environmental review for mine project expected next week
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The Army Corps of Engineers is expecting to release its environmental review next week for the proposed Donlin Gold mine in western Alaska.
The environmental impact statement for the large open-pit mine project has been in the works since late 2012, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Thursday.
The review will include the Corps‘ recommendations on how the project can be adjusted to minimize its environmental impact.
The mine is planned for a location about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the village of Crooked Creek near the Kuskokwim River. Donlin officials expect it to produce about 1.1 million ounces (31 million grams) of gold each year during a 27-year mine life.
Based on a 2011 feasibility study, the project is expected to cost $6.7 billion, which includes infrastructure work like building a natural gas pipeline and fuel storage.
The 315-mile (507-kilometer) pipeline would connect from the west side of Cook Inlet to supply a power plant for the mine. Officials have viewed the pipeline as an option to bring lower cost natural gas to remote villages in the area.
To support the mining operation, the project calls for the construction of a tailings facility, a power plant, a workers’ camp and an airstrip. A 30-mile (48-kilometer) road would also be built to connect the mine to a barge port on the river.
The project’s next steps are obtaining a record of decision from the Corps and securing permits, including approvals for water discharge and waste management, Donlin spokesman Kurt Parkan said.
After acquiring the permits, the company will reevaluate the project’s costs and look for financial backers.
“That is the plan and we’re working on ways to reduce the capital cost,” Parkan said.