The Yukon-Kuskokwim River Alliance wants the deadline extended for commenting on the proposed reclamation plans for the Donlin Mine. Currently, the deadline is set for August 7.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is asking for comments on the reclamation plans as well as the amount of money Donlin Gold would have to set aside to complete the task. The working group also wants a public hearing to air concerns about those plans, and about the mine which, if built, could be one of the biggest gold mines in the world.
In its letter to the state agency, the group says that the comment deadline does not allow enough time for communities to read through the 400-page document. This month's deadline is in the summer, when the majority of people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta are picking berries and fishing to stock up for winter. The huge mine would operate near the Kuskokwim River, a key food source for the region.
Opponents of the mine fear its impacts on subsistence and health; the mine requires large treatment facilities for the mercury released from the rocks near the site and for cyanide used to extract gold from rock. However, Donlin Gold, the company developing the mine, has repeatedly said that it plans to do so safely and believes that the subsistence lifestyle and mining can coexist.
Faith Martineau, who is overseeing the Donlin project at DNR, did not respond to a request for comment on whether or not the DNR would extend the comment period.