Donlin Gold Advances In Permit Process

Jun 5, 2018

The site of the proposed Donlin Gold mine in 2014.
Credit KYUK

Last week, Donlin Gold received a state permit that regulates wastewater discharge. The mine is located in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region and is poised to be one of the biggest gold mines in the world.

The company expects to obtain at least a dozen state and federal permits this year, says Donlin spokesperson Kurt Parkan. Those includes a combined record of decision from the Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps spearheaded the Environmetal Impact Statement, a study that calculates all the impacts to the environment from the mine. The Department of Transportation is set to issue a record of decision for the mine this year as well. 

But this is only a drop in the bucket compared to the potentially more than 100 permits that the Donlin Gold project needs to begin operating. Parkan says that the company should have most of its major permits by the end of the year, but after that it will still need dozens of smaller ones.

"We’ve been saying about 100 general permits to operate, but in fact it’s a lot more than that because of the permits we need to operate the pipeline," Parkan said. "There’s certainly more than 100."

Last week, Donlin secured the Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Individual Permit, which allows for discharge into Crooked Creek. The company already received the Air Quality Control Construction Permit, also a state permit, in July of last year. Parkan says that Donlin expects to receive most of its federal and state permits within the next five years.

"Well there’s a timeline for receiving the permits. Probably within the next two to three years we’ll probably get the majority of all the permits we need," Parkan said. 

The combined record of decision from the Army Corps of Engineers and BLM are scheduled for mid-August. That decision will determine how Donlin proceeds with its current plans to build the mine.

This story was produced in collaboration between KYUK and Alaska's Energy Desk.