No deal: Village council reverses on Donlin - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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No deal: Village council reverses on Donlin

In 2006, the Association of Village Council Presidents supported the proposed Donlin Gold mine in the Interior.

But what AVCP can give, AVCP can take away, and it took away its support during its annual convention this week.

According to KYUK radio, the regional public broadcasting outfit, the 41 delegates from the 56 tribes overwhelmingly voted to withdraw their support for the proposed mine, and subsequently passed a new resolution opposing the mine.

The votes were reported to be 34-to-4 voting to withdraw support for the resolution, with two abstaining; and 35-to-2 voting to oppose the mine, with three abstaining. The matter will now be taken to the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Anchorage on Oct. 23.

Orutsararmiut Native Council of Bethel and the Native Village of Kwinhagak led the charge to oppose the mine, which would be developed on land owned by the Kuskokwim Corporation, which is a consortium of individual village corporations of the upper Kuskokwim River. Calista Corporation owns the subsurface rights and has been the lead Native corporation on the project.

The mine would generate hundreds of high-paying jobs for people in the region, where jobs are few and far between.

According to the Environmental Impact Statement, hiring at the mine site would start the first year with 434 jobs; gradually increasing to approximately 1,000 jobs by the following year, and continuing at this level (1,000 employees) through Year 27 of Operations.

Approximately 150 of the jobs (out of the estimated 1,000 total) would be seasonal.

[Read the BLM Environmental Impact Statement here]

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Can you elaborate as to why their position has changed?

  • Withdraw State and Federal “unemployment” benefits, welfare, free healthcare anyway, subsidized everything and myriad other gov’t benefits the natives receive and watch how quickly they change their tune again. Why work when gus’uks (derogatory name for ‘white’ man) will pay us to not work, in the name of “heritage” or some other non-work invention, correct only for the goals and bitterness against everyone but their tribe, etc., but sufficient to validate non-employment excuses. Preservation and success of the State of Alaska, Alaskans and America itself are not sufficient reasons. Pardon me, but BS.

  • Cut off all State Funding and let them deal with Financial issues

  • Nope. Can’t do that. We are partially responsible for natives loosing their culture (missionaries) (Russians) and way of life. We are obligated to help them out. Can’t treat good people like that.

  • I’ve lived over 30 years on the YK Delta. I’ve watched the process of Donlin Mine, every step of the way.

    What happened out here was shady to say the least. The deal was conceived and consummated behind closed doors without any of the shareholders knowing anything. Then Gov Palin turned former State Rep Mary sattler loose to go to work for Donlin, before she was even out of office. Nothing like a sweet talker and free jackets, hats, backpacks and other glass beads and trinkets to buy good will. Especially when it’s a Trojan horse delivering the message, as one share holder to another.

    Bare in mind there was only one radio station in Bethel which doesn’t, even today come close to reaching the out lying villages. This all happened before 3G and social media. Public support was pronounced by the mine, everyone supports adds in a weekly newspaper that gets in limited quanity to the villages.

    Well urban Alaska, with knowledge and communication, rural Alaskans said wait a minute, not so fast here. Even though Calista negotiated more revenue than the State is willing to give our resources away to foreign countries for, they want to know how much a simple majority in executive session sold out for. Proprietary my ass, how much to risk the greatest resource we have?

    Not surprisingly the shareholders are putting Calista on the hot seat.

    When you look at the 40 year battle with the oil companies for royality, I’d say the real adults in the room live out here.

    Think about this, 1 percent of $400 BILLION is 4 billion. That’s what Alaskans stand to make off of the Pebble mine. That’s less than two years earnings on the permanent fund invest.

    No business man in their right mind would give up that much money considering that even the welfare derelicks on the YK Delta were smart enough to get more than the State legislature is fixing to get.

    We’re poor, but we’re not stupid.

    • Willy, as a former investor in Donlin, I’d like you to decode your comment as (dumb me) doesn’t really understand it. And what does Pebble have to do with anything about this? I’m sorry but I just don’t quite get what you are saying.

  • DONLIN GOLD MINE … A great project that would most definitely provide great opportunities for many Alaskans. It would be a shame if progress is stymied and impeded due to trivial issues.

  • It’s called revenue. The stuff that funds most everything in the State. The stuff that makes the PFD, that has divided the State.
    The State legislature wants to give 99 percent of what the people own for one percent and short term jobs.

    Donlin is corporation minerals, not State. Calista negotiated a higher percentage of return, at a location multiple times harder to access at a higher rate of return for their minerals.

    In other words Calista proved, by how much higher of a degree that isn’t definitely, publicly defined that the legislature is over due in revamping a 1959 State law.

    That’s how they are tied together. In other words, I’ll give you 1 percent of blue book for your best vehicle and hire your kid to mow my lawn for three weeks. Fair deal?

    • I’d worry less about revenue to the State of Alaska than the creation of new jobs in the region. The more people who are working, employed in high paying, stable jobs, the less income the State of Alaska needs. The key to all of this is simply putting people to work. Sadly, you miss that important point. Cheers –

  • Time to eliminate the Bush’s exemption from the TANF 60 month on welfare rule. Now, if your community has an unemployment rate of more than 50% you can receive welfare forever. Of course, they don’t want jobs.

  • Sir, I want to correct your math. Donlin will produce 1.5 million oz of Gold for 27 years. At the current spot price of Gold that figures to about 60 billion $. That sum is about the same number as the P- fund currently.
    However, unlike the P- fund this mine will be fully invested in Alaska. Just the 7 to 8 billion development costs alone dwarf any investment made by the P-fund in Alaska.
    The real benefit though is the LIFETIME chance of getting a good job for people in the region. About 50% of the 60 billion will be spent in Alaska and the region. Why are you opposed to helping break the welfare cycle?

  • I worked at Donlin several years ago on a small winter drilling project with a crew of about 10 young village men who worked as drillers helpers. They helped the driller set up the small drill between drill sites and helped to pack it up for slinging by helicopter to new sites. Then their expertise with snow machines was required to ferry gear and crew over to new sites. We worked at temperatures between 5 and 30 below zero. The driller.was committed to teaching the crew as much as he knew and they were eager learners and dedicated workers. At one point they diagnosed and were able to repair a problem before the driller could. They were extremely proud to be sending good paychecks home to their families, wives and girlfriends. The company was aware of local traditions and customs and allowed extended breaks at home—unlike most north slope work schedules. I encountered similar attitudes in other jobs around the Donlin camp and from village folks I talked with. This was win-win for an economically depressed part of the State. What happened?

    • Karen, what happened is that the Welfare System has set in place a kingdom for distribution of funds. Those at the top of this kingdom surely do not want their vassels to succeed since it would destroy their power. Simply put there will never be economic growth in that entire region as long as the current corrupt system remains in place.

  • How does anyone figure I’m against jobs?

    My argument is, 1 percent is not enough for mined minerals.

    If I follow some of you folks logic, we should flat rate gas and oil to one percent because prudhoe bay was a huge investment and they provide jobs. Oil, gas and minerals, they belong to the people.

    Flat rate every thing to 1 percent? Some of you missed the boat, you should be elected officials in Juneau.

  • Drill down and see just who is stirring them up to oppose an employment opportunity of a lifetime. I think one will find that those that are opposing are sitting pretty good now and into the future. Keep everyone in poverty, never provide an opportunity to success. Want to save the villages, employment. It was in the NANA region when they were developing the Red Dog mine, the leaders said that if they were going to protect their communities then they needed an economic base.

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