Proposed Gold Mine Acquires Two Permits from Federal Agencies

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A massive gold mine proposed in western Alaska has cleared a regulatory hurdle, acquiring permits from federal agencies.

    The Donlin Gold Mine received permits Monday from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management after about six years of environmental review, Alaska's Energy Desk reported .

    The project required a permit from the Corps because it will affect thousands of acres of wetlands. The project also includes a 315-mile (507-kilometer) gas pipeline planned to cross federal land, requiring BLM approval.

    The conventional open-pit mine is planned for a site 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the village of Crooked Creek in the Upper Kuskokwim River drainage.

    Representatives from the mining industry and Native Corporations joined federal officials at an Anchorage office to commemorate the signing of the permits Monday.

    "The spirit of this joint record of decision is about everyone coming together and working together and coming up with a quicker decision," said David Hobbie of the Corps' Alaska District.

    Donlin Gold has estimated the mine and infrastructure to cost $6.7 billion. The mine is projected to produce more than 1 million ounces (28.35 million grams) of gold per year at its peak.

    Several tribes and local communities have opposed the project, citing concerns about the possible contamination to the Kuskokwim River and damage to subsistence lifestyles.

    The project is planned for lands owned by The Kuskokwim Corp. and Calista Corp.

    "We are involved in subsistence too with our own families, so that's a very valid concern that we've always kept in the top of our heads," said Andrew Guy, CEO of Calista.

    The project still requires numerous other permits. Donlin said it plans to tackle the major ones this year, and it could acquire the rest in two years.

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