The US Army Corps of Engineers has published the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) report for the $6bn Donlin Gold project by Canada-based Barrick Gold and NovaGold Resources, moving it a step further in the permission process.
Donlin Gold is awaiting several federal and state permits, and the EIS will be the basis for the US Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to evaluate federal permit applications.
The open-pit gold mine is in south-west Alaska, ten miles north of the village of Crooked Creek on the Kuskokwim River.
The two companies equally own Donlin Gold, which will operate the project.
Donlin Gold will also build a 315-mile natural gas pipeline from Cook Inlet to the site to supply energy to the mine.
The mine land belongs to Kuskokwim, a for-profit corporation that represents ten villages, as well as Calista. Calista was formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act for the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, which owns the mineral rights.
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In July 2014, Kuskokwim signed a surface agreement with Donlin Gold, enabling the mine to use its land to access gold in case the company decides to go ahead with the project.
Calista president and CEO Andrew Guy said: "As an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) corporation, Calista must meet two key goals, to successfully operate as a profitable business and to provide socio-economic benefits to our shareholders.
"The advancement of this project can allow Calista to meet both ANCSA goals by providing an opportunity to develop partnerships for future low cost energy, in addition to meaningful employment opportunities for shareholders and a revenue stream for Calista."
Kuskokwim president and CEO Maver Carey said: "Donlin Gold’s continued presence in the region over the past two decades and the partnership which we have developed through the updated surface use agreement, represent tremendous opportunities for the shareholders of our ten villages and the broader Yukon-Kuskokwim community."
Donlin Gold has also submitted the air quality and integrated waste management permit applications to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) and lease applications to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) to advance the project.