Multiple shareholders voiced concerns over the proposed Donlin mine’s impact to subsistence living at Calista Regional Native Corporation’s annual meeting on Friday.
Bethel residents Beverly Hoffman and Danielle Craven handed out white t-shirts with anti-Donlin mine slogans to shareholders coming for the annual meeting at the Calista Regional Native Corporation, which was held in Bethel this year.
They are part of a new working group that formed last month to oppose the proposed Donlin Gold mine, which would be one of the biggest in the world. The group is called the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Alliance and wants to protect salmon habitat in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Many residents in the Y-K Delta are confused over the permitting process and development of the mine, Craven says. But Craven told those attending to remember what they are fighting for: their lifestyle and protection of the salmon.
They were part of a crowd of shareholders who spoke out against the mine during the hours-long meeting before the corporation voted in Marcie Sherer, who took Robert Hoffman's seat. Hoffman supported the project.
It’s unclear what this means for Calista's position on the project; the corporation owns the mineral rights for the land that will house it. Craven says that shareholders also voiced concerns that their vote was not considered when Calista leased the mineral rights to Donlin.
“One of the questions that came up was whether or not Donlin Gold was ever brought to shareholders for a vote, to support the development of Donlin Gold,” Craven said.
This is the latest in a series of protests against the Donlin mine. The Orutsaramiut Native Council marched against the mine two weeks ago, making it the first tribe in the Y-K Delta to do so. Craven is a member of ONC.
Donlin spokesman Kurt Parkan says that the company is aware that not all sides will agree on the mine. But, he says, they have worked closely with Calista and The Kuskokwim Corporation, which owns the surface rights, to develop the mine responsibly.
“Donlin Gold appreciates the broad support that we have in the region for the project. We understand there are a difference of opinions and we welcome any opportunity to speak to anyone with concerns,” Parkan said.
This will likely not be the last protest. Craven says that the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Alliance is planning more outreach efforts across communities to inform them of what they see as the dangers of the proposed mine.