3 Alaska Native tribes sue to block major gold mine project

Apr 6, 2023, 12:09 PM | Updated: 1:48 pm

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Three Alaska Native tribes have sued to block what they say would be one of the largest gold mines in the world, arguing that federal agencies failed to properly analyze health and environmental concerns for the project in southwest Alaska.

Tribes from the communities of Kwethluk, Tuluksak and Bethel filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday challenging the adequacy of a Donlin Gold project.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the tribes by environmental nonprofit Earthjustice, claims the agencies failed to fully analyze potential harms and health impacts from a catastrophic spill and did not provide adequate protection for rainbow smelt, a subsistence food, from increased barge traffic related to the project, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The lawsuit states the project has received the approvals needed for construction to begin but that construction has not yet started. The project is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the Kuskokwim River community of Crooked Creek. Donlin Gold LLC, owned by subsidiaries of Canada-based NovaGold Resources and Barrick Gold Corp., manages the project.

Dolin Gold said in a statement that the federal permitting process was rigorous.

“Donlin Gold’s stakeholders fully believe that this lawsuit is meritless and are confident the actual record will once again fully support the agencies’ decisions,” the statement said. “In the meantime, the Donlin Gold team and the owners continue to advance remaining state permitting, as well as drilling and technical work, subject to Donlin Gold LLC Board approval.”

The lawsuit names as defendants the corps, U.S. Interior Department, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and agency officials. An Interior Department spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson with the corps in Alaska referred an email request for comment to the U.S. Department of Justice, which did not respond to an online request for comment.

The deposit contains 39 million ounces (1.1 billion grams) of gold — worth close to $80 billion at today’s prices. A 315-mile (507-kilometer) natural gas pipeline from the west side of Cook Inlet would supply a power plant at the mine. The project life is anticipated around three decades.

The project is on land owned by The Kuskokwim Corp., the area Alaska Native village corporation, and the mineral rights to the deposit are controlled by Calista Corp., the regional Alaska Native corporation.

The mine is expected to employ 3,000 people during construction and about 1,400 people during operations. Opposition has grown in recent years from tribes and other Indigenous groups that worry the project will harm fisheries, a primary subsistence resource for residents.

National News

Associated Press

US judge yanks approval for Idaho mine after finding that federal agency violated environmental laws

A federal judge has yanked approval for a phosphate mining project in southeastern Idaho, saying federal land managers in the Trump administration didn’t in part properly consider the mine’s impact on sage grouse, a bird species that has seen an 80% decline in population since 1965. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s Friday decision came […]

16 hours ago

Sen. Fred Mills asks a question to members of The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Servi...

Associated Press

Louisiana Senate passes bill banning gender-affirming car for transgender youths

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A controversial bill — that at one point had been presumed dead — banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths in Louisiana was passed by the Senate on Monday and is likely to reach the governor’s desk in the coming days. The bill, which passed in the Senate mainly along […]

16 hours ago

Ted Henifin, the interim third-party manager appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to help fi...

Associated Press

Mississippi’s capital only collects 56% of fees from its struggling water system

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s capital is collecting only a little more than half of the money it bills for water use, far below the rate at which most American cities obtain such fees, Jackson’s federally appointed water manager said Monday. Ted Henifin, appointed in November by a federal court to help improve Jackson’s troubled […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Chinese ex-official’s wife says alleged repatriation pressure turned her life in US ‘upside-down’

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Chinese official and his wife had left their homeland and kept their U.S. address private. Yet eight years later, two strangers were banging on their New Jersey front door and twisting the handle, the wife testified in a U.S. court Monday. When the men left and Liu Fang opened […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Ex-guard at NYC federal building indicted in sex assault of asylum seeker

NEW YORK (AP) — An asylum seeker was sexually assaulted by an armed guard at a federal building in New York City where the FBI has its offices, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. Jimmy Solano-Arias, 42, of the Bronx, was charged in Manhattan federal court with deprivation of rights under color of law involving […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

CNN chief apologizes to employees for distracting from work

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Licht, the embattled chief executive of CNN, apologized to network employees on Monday for distracting from their work and promised to “fight like hell” to earn their trust amid criticism of his year at the helm. Licht’s tenure hit a low point last week with publication of a lengthy, damaging […]

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

3 Alaska Native tribes sue to block major gold mine project