BETHEL — The public is getting its chance to offer opinions on the impacts of a big gold mine proposed to be carved out of a mountain ridge in Southwest Alaska — including at a meeting set for Thursday in Anchorage.
The Army Corps of Engineers, the lead agency in the environmental review, is holding a series of public meetings to gather comment on the proposed Donlin Gold project. Meetings have already taken place in Aniak and Crooked Creek, the community closest to the mine site.
A draft environmental impact statement – more than 5,500 pages of materials – was released Nov. 25 by the Corps. People can comment at the meetings, or do so online, through April 30. The environmental review examines risks and benefits of the project, as well as alternatives, so agencies have that information in hand when considering key permits.
The Donlin deposit is estimated to contain more than 33 million ounces of gold that would be taken from rock crushed on-site over the mine's expected 27-year operating life. Building the open-pit mine, north of the small village of Crooked Creek and about 10 miles from the salmon-rich Kuskokwim River, will take three to four years once permits are issued. Some Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta residents have been concerned about the prospect of hurting salmon runs and about increased barge traffic on the Kuskokwim. But others say it will be a huge economic boost to one of the poorest parts of Alaska.
Here is the schedule for the meetings yet to come: (The Corps is waiting to confirm times and places in Tyonek and Lower Kalskag.)
• Anchorage: 6 p.m. Thursday, Egan Center.
• Bethel: 6 p.m. Monday, Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center.
• Akiak: 2 p.m. Tuesday, community center.
• Nunapitchuk, 1 p.m. Feb. 4, community building.
• Quinhagak, 1 p.m. Feb. 16, bingo hall.
• Kipnuk, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 17, tribal council office.
• McGrath, 3 p.m. Feb. 26, village council office.
• St. Mary's, 6 p.m. March 1, city hall.
• Emmonak, 6 p.m. March 2, city complex.
• Toksook Bay, 1 p.m. March 15, multipurpose room.
• Hooper Bay, 1 p.m. March 16, tribal council office.
• Tyonek, 1 p.m. March 25, tribal office.
• Holy Cross, 6 p.m. March 30, community hall.
• Lower Kalskag, 1 p.m. March 31, community hall.