Army Corps to roll out major decision on Donlin Mine on Monday

The proposed mine could impact 3,500 acres of wetlands in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

The Army Corps of Engineers is set to roll out its record of decision for the proposed Donlin mine on Monday, August 13. This could be one of the biggest gold mines in the world, if approved.

“We’re excited. This is a major milestone for the project moving forward,” said Donlin Gold spokesperson Kurt Parkan.

The company needs at least 100 permits before they can start mining, and some of those permits could be granted on Monday as part of a joint record of decision from the Army Corps and the Bureau of Land Management. Donlin is pretty confident that the project will be approved.

“Projects go into the process of getting a permit with the expectation of getting a permit,” Parkan said.

The joint record of decision signals the end of a six-year review process. Throughout those years, Donlin, the federal and state agencies, and other stakeholders have worked together to determine how the project would impact the land and water surrounding it. All that information has been put into a document called the Environmental Impact Statement, which Donlin released earlier this year.

Because the mine would impact thousands of acres of wetlands in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and would include a gas pipeline that runs through BLM land, both agencies have to issue permits.

The record of decision does not mean that Donlin will have the permits in hand on Monday, Army Corps spokesman John Budnik wrote in an email, but it does show how the agencies think the mine should move forward. The actual permits could come a couple months later.

Nearly a dozen tribes have issued anti-Donlin resolutions in the past two months. They fear that the mine could impact their subsistence way of life, which is practiced by the majority of Y-K Delta residents.

The project’s critics also fear a mine accident could contaminate the Kuskokwim River, which supplies a lot of the food for the region. Meanwhile, Donlin still needs more than 100 permits before it starts mining, but expects to get most of the major ones out of the way this year.

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