Calista Corporation, and The Kuskokwim Corporation representing several
Alaska Native villages in the region.
“The EIS process started in 2012,”
says Parkan. “The draft EIS is expected
to be released for public review towards
the end of 2015. After the public comment period is over, it will take about an
additional year or so to finalize the EIS.”
Parkan says Donlin Gold continues
to do a considerable amount of community engagement in the region to share
information about the project with the
residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region. The updated employment expectation is now at 600 to 1,200 employees
Per a project presentation to the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, the mineral resources are on lands owned by
Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation. The project has been
ongoing since 1995 with 2015 marking
the 20th year of studies. It is estimated
there are 33. 9 million ounces of gold,
and the open-pit mine’s life is twenty-seven years. Milling will be approximately 59,000 tons per day with a full-lined tailing storage facility. Equipment
will include sixty-nine haul trucks and
One aspect of the development of the
mine is the requirement for an expected average load of 157 megawatts, and
to provide that level of power to operate
the mine at peak capacity, a fourteen-inch, 312-mile underground pipeline to
transport natural gas from Cook Inlet
to the mine is under consideration. One
alternative is to barge fuel from Bethel.
Parkan says the company has looked
at wind turbines, tidal power, and diesel power plants, as well as peat applications and nuclear alternatives. “They
all had disadvantages,” he adds. “The
most feasible is the natural gas pipeline
to Cook Inlet. It will cost $1 billion and
take three years to construct.” Parkan
says ultimately the temporary roads for
construction will be removed, the land
reclaimed, and no plans are currently
being pursued to connect to the intertie
because it’s cost prohibitive.
At a production expectation of 1.5
million ounces annually for the first five
years, and 1.1 million ounces, or approximately 40 tons of gold, during the remaining years of operation, Donlin Gold
equates the development forthcoming to
a huge boost of economy. From jobs to
commerce, regional and statewide benefits are expected to be significant.
An impressive advanced exploration
stage project on the horizon in Southeast Alaska is Niblack.
Heatherdale Resources Ltd. is a mineral exploration and development company focused on advancing the Niblack
Heatherdale holds 100 percent interest in the advanced exploration stage of
the proposed mine, consisting of 6,200
acres of federal and state mineral claims,
250 acres of patented lands, and related
mineral exploration permits, equipment, and infrastructure on Prince of
Wales Island, twenty-seven miles southwest of Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska.
Six volcanogenic massive sulphide
deposits are known to occur within the
Niblack mineral claims and there are
significant mineral resources outlined
in two of the deposits with excellent potential to add to the resources and make
new discoveries. On-site infrastructure
includes 3,300 feet of underground development, a water treatment plant and
discharge system, and a dock and barge
camp as well as 1.5 miles of road.
Plans this year include exploring investment opportunities to take the Niblack Project forward into the pre-fea-sibility, permitting, and construction
stages. To those ends, two MOUs (
memorandums of understanding) have been
signed in anticipation of progress.
Since the 1990s and the decline of the
timber industry in Southeast Alaska, a
downturn in employment, school enrollment, and population as a whole
has negatively impacted the region.
Ketchikan Gateway Borough Manager
Dan Bockhorst recalls Ketchikan losing
five hundred well-paying jobs when the
Ketchikan Pulp Mill shut down in 1997.
Bockhorst refers to the Borough’s MOU
with Niblack and embraces the potential
for the proposed Gravina Island Industrial Complex to be built on the Ketchikan International Airport Reserve.
The complex will include a milling facility able to handle up to 2,000 tons of mill
feed per day from the mine and room for
as much as 15 million tons of tailings.
Bockhorst references the 1990s and
economic downturn in the region, not-
ing that there is strong support from his
borough for the project. The communi-
ty “would welcome the opportunity to
fill many of the 638 desks in our schools
that were left empty in large measure
by the downturn of the timber indus-
try in the 1990s,” he says. He adds that
the 32. 25 acres property “is an already-
established industrial site that provides
excellent access to clean hydroelectric
power and a local workforce.”
The residents on Prince of Wales Island
will also benefit from not only the mine,
but in concert with Ketchikan and its pro-
posed development post-extraction of the
ore. POWTEC Holding Company is man-
aged by Bill Cole, president and visionary
who sees great potential in job opportu-
nities with Niblack Mine. The company
is owned by two tribes and within Seal-
aska’s Native region. Craig Tribal Associa-
Tunnel at Niblack,
Prince of Whales Island
in Southeast Alaska.
Photo courtesy of Heatherdale