Dear Georgetown Community and Friends,

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released their Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Donlin Gold Project on April 27, 2018. To view the whole document, click here. To view the executive summary, click here.

Comments are being only accepted on the updated compensatory mitigation plan included as appendices to the final EIS document (specifically, Appendices J and M).

From USACE Special Public Notice: Comments on the compensatory mitigation plan will be accepted through a 30 day review period, beginning April 27, 2018, and ending May 29, 2018. This comment period is intended to provide those interested in or affected by this proposal an opportunity to make their concerns known prior to a decision being made by the Corps. All comments concerning the compensatory mitigation plan should be directed to: Mr. Jamie R. Hyslop, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, CEPOA-RD-Hyslop, P.O. Box 6898, JBER, AK, 99506-0898; via email at: POA.donlingoldeis@usace.army.mil or; (907) 753-2670.

Donlin Gold, LLC (Donlin Gold) is proposing the development of an open pit, hard rock gold mine in southwestern Alaska, about 277 miles west of Anchorage, 145 miles northeast of Bethel, and 10 miles north of the village of Crooked Creek. The proposed project would be located in an area of low-lying, well-rounded ridges on the western portion of the Kuskokwim Mountain. The proposed Donlin Gold project would require approximately three to four years to construct, with the mine life currently projected to be approximately 27 years. The mine is proposed to be a year-round, conventional “truck and shovel” operation using both bulk and selective mining methods.

Updates for Appendix J: USACE Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act/ Section 404 Clean Water Act Permit Application and Appendix M: Compensatory Mitigation Plan from December 2017 include: 

Updated Affected Wetland and Stream Areas
1. The quantities of wetland acreage and stream length impacts were updated to reflect
the current wetlands mapping based on the Preliminary Jurisdiction Determination
report (PJD) dated December 2016 that was requested by the Corps as part of the
project review. The Corps issued a preliminary determination concurring with the
mapping dated February 27, 2017. An addendum was filed in August 2017 to include
the mapping for the pipeline North Route option. The Corps issued a preliminary
determination concurring with the addendum mapping dated October 12, 2017. The
total mapped area covered by the 2 determinations is 107,408.5 acres.

**For affected wetlands: Donlin Gold proposes two PRM projects to offset the permanent fill impacts in the Mine Area (MA), Transportation Area (TA), and Pipeline Area (PA) including:

  • Restore and preserve approximately 101.7-acres of wetlands and riparian area with 8,501-linear feet (1.61-miles) of stream, and establish another 71.0-acres of  riparian preservation buffers, in historical placer mining areas in the Upper Crooked Creek watershed.
  • Preserve a total of 5,888-acres, of which it is estimated 2,558-acres are wetlands and ponds, with an additional 3,330-acres of upland riparian areas, stream area, and buffers, and 228,325-linear feet (43.24-miles) of streams in the Chuitna  watershed.

This Final CMP is submitted to USACE as part of the DA Permit application.

Rerouted Pipeline around Iditarod National Historic Trail (North Route)
2. Following the submission of comments by the public and agencies on the draft EIS and
initial permit application, the pipeline route was adjusted to avoid all co-location with
the Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT). Donlin was able to plan and propose a route
(known as the North Route option) in response to the concerns that were raised. In
addition, the project plan now includes options for reducing visual impacts at the 4
locations where the pipeline crosses the INHT. The North Route option is now
incorporated as the proposed plan in the updated DA application. The overall length of
the pipeline did not change materially.

Inclusion of a Compensatory Mitigation Plan
3. The DA application includes a Compensatory Mitigation Plan (CMP) for the updated
wetland acreage and stream length impacts. The CMP documents the extensive
evaluation that was undertaken first to identify potential mitigation opportunities
within the affected watersheds, including both restoration and preservation
opportunities. The CMP then documents the expanded search for appropriate
mitigation opportunities beyond the affected watersheds, until adequate practicable  mitigation opportunities could be identified to fulfill the values and standards of
Alaska’s wetland mitigation policy. The CMP presents a mitigation plan that offsets the
project impacts based on an acre-to-acre and foot-to-foot basis for wetlands and
streams, respectively (taken from Appendix M).

A Record of Decision on the Donlin Gold Project is expected for the final EIS and wetlands permit application later in 2018.

Georgetown Environmental Department and Tribal Council will be reviewing all documentation to determine the next course of action necessary.  If you have any comments you would like to submit to us about your concerns, please feel free to email us at meredith.witte@georgetowntc.com or call at (907)-274-2196.

 

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