Gold was discovered at Donlin Creek in 1909 by prospectors headed through the area on their way to a gold strike on another river. But the site remained undeveloped. In 1996, Donlin Gold began conducting exploration, environmental and engineering studies to assess the feasibility of developing a mining project in the area.
Donlin Gold was able to confirm the presence of large amounts of gold approximately 10 miles north of the village of Crooked Creek. The studies mentioned above began documenting the baseline environment to help design the project and support project permitting.
The proposed project would be on land owned by The Kuskokwim Corporation, which owns the surface rights, and Calista Corporation, which owns the subsurface rights. Donlin Gold reached agreements with these Alaska Native corporations to work together to develop the mine and to ensure that the project is built with exceptional standards of safety and that it benefits shareholders, their families, their communities and the Yukon Kuskokwim region overall.
With this team in place, Donlin Gold submitted a Section 404 permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2012. The permit application triggered the development of an environmental impact statement (EIS) as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The EIS gives the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies a basis to evaluate the federal permit applications. The proposed mine will require more than 100 federal and state permits in addition to the Section 404 permit.
The permitting process has been ongoing since the initial Section 404 application in 2012 and has included opportunities for the public to comment on the mine, its impacts on the region both positive and negative, and any planned or perceived design.
The studies have also been ongoing. As part of the mine development, Donlin Gold has employed a staff, which has had a precedent-setting ratio of Alaska hire (above 90% at times), and installed a number of structures and facilities at the proposed mine site and elsewhere, some of which is on state land. The structures and facilities have included support elements, such as airstrip facilities, an access road, a fiber-optic telecommunications cable and construction camps.
As part of the commitment to its Native corporation partners to benefit the region, Donlin Gold has become a member of the Yukon Kuskokwim community, sponsoring scholarships, school and sporting events and offering job training. Donlin Gold also goes to great lengths to keep YK region residents informed of current events involving the project, upcoming and long-term future planning, and to incorporate concerns of residents into the project’s activities and plans. Donlin Gold places a priority on listening to residents of the YK region and holds frequent community-listening events, with senior corporation officers traveling from village to village to share project information. Donlin Gold also publishes a newsletter, maintains a website, opens regional village offices, publishes project-description booklets, and invites feedback by phone and email.
If all permits are approved, Donlin Gold estimates that construction of the mine will take three to four years, and the mine will be in operation for an estimated 27 years. Donlin Gold is committed to local hire. You can read more about the project here.