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 proposed project is on land owned by The Kuskokwim Corporation, which holds 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.
After almost six years of study and analysis, the Corps released the final EIS in April 2018. The EIS process gives residents, tribes and communities many opportunities to learn about the project and offer comments, concerns and suggestions. The FEIS guides state and federal agencies in issuing permits. The proposed mine will require more than 100 federal and state permits in addition to the Section 404 permit.
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 are 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 and open village offices. Donlin Gold also publishes a newsletter, maintains a website and Facebook account, publishes project-description booklets and invites feedback by phone and email.
Once all permits are approved, Donlin Gold will evaluate the next steps in terms of design and engineering and an estimated construction timeline of three to four years.The mine will be in operation for an at least 27 years. Donlin Gold is committed to local hire. You can read more about the project here.