Donlin Mine clears more permit hurdles



Donlin Gold moved its mining project forward today, receiving two key permits from the State of Alaska.

The first is a waste management permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation. It determines how the solid, liquid and hazardous waste will be handled.

The other permit came from the Department of Natural Resources, and relates to the reclamation plan for the project, including how the company will close the mine. This permit establishes a financial assurance, or guarantee, for reclamation, mitigation and long-term care and maintenance of the site, including water management and treatment. In the event the State of Alaska would have to assume responsibility for closure and long-term care of the site, Donlin will provide a $322 million bond to cover site reclamation and water management and treatment.

The permit came after DNR held hearings one year ago in Aniak, Bethel and Anchorage, and additional hearings in Bethel in August.

The Donlin Gold project is in Western Alaska in the Yukon Kuskokwim region, 280 miles from Anchorage, 150 miles from Bethel and 60 miles from Aniak.

The site contains high-grade gold deposits with approximately 39 million ounces of gold. The proposed mine would have a 27-year operational life.

Additional permits are needed by the project, including infrastructure permits for temporary roads, fiber optic and pipelines, which would carry fuel — possibly natural gas — to the project. The project also needs rights of way granted, and water rights and temporary water use authorizations. A dam safety certificate is also on the checklist. Those could come in the next 24 months, pending the volumes of data that still needs to be gathered.