KYUK AM

Y-K Delta Tribes Appeal Donlin State Permits

Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

Thirteen tribes are appealing two key state permits for the proposed Donlin gold mine. Environmental group Earthjustice filed the appeal on their behalf. 

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources approved Donlin Gold’s reclamation and waste management plans last month, but the 13 tribes that oppose the project say that their concerns about the mine were ignored by regulators. The Donlin gold mine could be biggest in the world, if completed, and its opponents fear that a mining accident could contaminate the Kuskokwim River, the region's biggest food source.

Donlin Gold, the company developing the mine, has said numerous times that it plans to build the mine as safely as possible. 

Most of the tribes appealing the permits live along the lower Kuskokwim River. Some of them have passed resolutions opposing the mine, and now Akiak and Sleetmute are among those in the fight against Donlin. Sleetmute is roughly 40 miles upriver from the mine site, and is one of a group of 10 villages that have TKC, The Kuskokwim Corporation, as their Native village corporation. TKC owns the surface rights to the gold mine site, while the Calista Regional Native Corporation holds the mineral rights.

Here’s the full list of tribes that have signed on to the appeal: The Orutsararmiut Native Council, Eek, Kasigluk, Chuloonawick, Nightmute, Kongiganak, Tununak, Chevak, Kwethluk, Chefornak, Tuluksak, Sleetmute, and Akiak.