Tuesday, October 30, 2012

US Army Corps of Engineers holds Informational meeting for Federally Recognized Tribes Regarding Proposed Donlin Gold Project

October 30, 2012

A conference call for federally recognized tribes in the area of proposed Donlin Gold mine project was hosted by US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) representatives Amanda Shearer and Don Kuhle.

USACE confirmed that they received a preliminary permit application from Donlin Gold in July – kicking off NEPA process for EIS.  As lead federal agency, USACE is responsible for preparing EIS before issuing any permits required from them.  Many other federal and state permits will be required but they are in the lead.

USACE stated that they received Donlin’s application on July 26, and since then Donlin Gold has sent out request for proposals to several contractors and identified URS Alaska, LLC as the third party contractor that will prepare EIS.  They will report to USACE as they write the EIS (but are funded by Donlin).   USACE are also working on developing a list of cooperating agencies.  Several tribes from the middle Kuskokwim have expressed interest in becoming cooperating agencies, Crooked Creek among them. Some tribes expressed interest in being cooperating agencies, but were unsure about how to fund travel to meetings and time for project involvement.

Tribes participating in the process through Gov’t to gov’t  relationship will have early opportunities for draft EIS review.

Questions asked

What will EIS do? 
Documents current environmental conditions and addresses impacts project will have.

How long will it take? 
3 years, possibly longer

Will there be a separate EIS for each part of project?
No, they have decided that since all areas of project are related, they will do only one EIS including all project areas.

When will next contact be made from USACE?  
They just received public inforomation plan from URS yesterday, and will review that and decide.  At the least, we will receive information when NOI is filed.   At some point, URS will have a website with information.
From December through next year (possibly into March), 13 community scoping meetings will be held.  Anchorage meeting should be mid December.

As more information becomes available, I will be sure to keep you informed.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Donlin Gold 3rd Quarter Update 
October 12, 2012

October 11, 2012 Webcast – Greg Lang, President of NovaGold gives 3rd Quarter update: 

Highlights from the third quarter as related to permitting process-
Nova Gold and Barrick are jointly moving forward together in permitting process.
They submitted plan of operations and wetlands permit application under Section 404 of US Clean Water Act, thus initiating the NEPA Process.
US Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency, and has selected an independent contractor to prepare Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  
A Notice of Intent is expected to be filed within the coming weeks, followed by the public scoping process.  

NEPA Process Steps:
NOI, Public Scoping, Preliminary Draft EIS, Draft EIS, Public Comment period, Final EIS and Permit Issuance, 30 Day Appeal

Impacts to be covered in the EIS include:
Hydrology, air and water quality, wetlands, fish and aquatic habitat, wildlife, socioeconomics, threatened and endangered species, land use and subsistence, noise, cumulative impacts, cultural resources, recreation safey and feasibility.

For a more detailed overview of NEPA process, please follow this link


GTC received a letter in the mail from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), sent September 27, 2012.  A summary of this letter is as follows:

The USACE, in cooperation with the EPA, BLM, and ADNR is participating in the development of an EIS for the proposed Donlin Mine Project.  The project is located in Western AK, approximately 10 miles from Crooked Creek.

Infrastructure plans include:
- Two ports on the Kuskokwim River
- A 312 mile, 14 inch diameter natural gas pipeline from Cook Inlet to the north of Crooked Creek
- Navigation and pipeline crossing of the Kuskokwim River
- Diesel storage at Dutch Harbor and Bethel
- A 30 mile long road
- A Hercules/C-130 airstrip
- A man camp
- Power generation (157 megawatts, equivalent to a city the size of Fairbanks)
- An open mine pit 2.5 miles long by 0.75 miles wide by 1800 ft dep
- A tailings impoundment/waste treatment facility 1.5 miles long by 1 mile wide

Total footprint of 16,300 acres.  Donlin predicts that the mine would mill 59,000 short tons of ore per day, to obtain 1.3 million ounces of gold per year over a 27.5 year mine operational life.
The 37.5 total years includes 5 years construction time and 5 years reclamation time.

USACE, as the lead federal agency, has the responsibility for EIS process, as well as government to government coordination with tribes. The consultation process provides affected federally recognized tribes with opportunities for participation in the federal permitting process.  GTC will have several opportunities to participate and provide input.  GTC will attend an informational teleconference to begin discussing the scope and nature of the proposed project and open up dialogue on October 30, 2012.

Check back for more updates as this process continue

Storms and Winds and Floods, what's next?

October 12, 2012

Well, as fall dwindles down and winter quickly makes its approach, I can’t help but look back on some of the crazy weather events that have happened in Alaska since I arrived last November.  

In April of 2012, Anchorage broke the snow record set in 1954 of 132.6 inches.  May didn’t bring much relief, with spring breakup causing flooding in many villages along the Kuskokwim. 

 And then there was summer.   

Wait, what summer?  

No wonder we barely noticed it with July being the fourth coldest in Anchorage history, according to the National Weather Service.  The temperature in Alaska’s largest city averaged 56.3 degrees for the month.  In fact this July, we saw only three days with a temperature of 70 degrees or more.  

September brought with it powerful wind storms, gusting up to 130 mph in some areas of Anchorage, knocking down trees and leaving thousands without power, a lot of which didn’t see power again for several days. 

And then there was the rain…days of rain gave way to flooding across Southcentral Alaska, causing some communities like Talkeetna to evacuate.  Many roads were washed out or closed from Talkeetna to Seward, and landslides were reported.  The governor declared a state disaster for areas hit by flooding. 

Photo credit: Rob Stewart at Salmon River Weir, ADF&G

And just as I began thinking, if it’s going to be so wet out, I’d rather just have snow….we got it.  I woke up on September 29th to at least 2 or 3 inches of snow in my backyard.  

Careful what you wish for.
It’s almost been a year since I’ve been here…I’m almost afraid to ask – what else could there be???