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Business/Economy

Alaska village council association withdraws support for proposed gold mine

Donlin Gold mine work camp and runway as seen from the air in 2014. (Lisa Demer / ADN)

BETHEL — An association of Native community leaders has withdrawn its support for a proposed gold mine project in Southwest Alaska, officials said.

The Association of Village Council Presidents voted at its annual convention in Bethel Wednesday to withdraw support for the Donlin Gold mine, KYUK-AM reported Wednesday.

The 41 delegates attending the meeting of the association that represents 56 tribes also passed a separate resolution opposing the proposed mine near the Kuskokwim River.

The vote reversed a 2006 resolution supporting the mine, while the new resolution indicates the project has lost significant support from tribes in the region.

Donlin Gold did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The company has said it plans to build the mine as safely as possible.

Donlin officials expect the planned mine about 10 miles north of the village of Crooked Creek to produce about 1.1 million ounces of gold annually over 27 years.

The Orutsararmiut Native Council of Bethel, which opposes the mine, submitted the resolution to withdraw support. The Native Village of Kwinhagak, which also objects to the mine, submitted the resolution to oppose the project. Both resolutions are expected to be presented at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in October.

Based on a 2011 feasibility study, the project is expected to cost $6.7 billion and include infrastructure work such as a natural gas pipeline and fuel storage.

The 315-mile pipeline would connect from the west side of Cook Inlet to supply a mine power plant. Officials have viewed the pipeline as an option to bring lower-cost natural gas to remote villages.

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