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Donlin Gold

Technical Report


Reaching important milestones in advancing permitting of Donlin Gold.

Permitting began for Donlin Gold in mid-2012 with the submission of the initial permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the "Corps”), the lead federal permitting agency. Permitting in Alaska is a clearly defined environmental review process which is typically coordinated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a procedural law that governs the process by which most major natural resource projects in the United States are evaluated.

From 2012 to 2018, permitting activities at Donlin Gold were focused on the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS has been the most time-consuming aspect of the environmental review process and in large part, has driven the overall permitting timeline for the project. The process involved multiple public comment opportunities. Many issues were identified and thoroughly considered in the EIS process with significant and early input by cooperating agencies as well as the public.

In April 2018, the Corps filed the notice of availability for the final EIS in the Federal Register. Four months later on August 13, 2018, the Corps and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a joint Federal Record of Decision (ROD), along with the combined Clean Water Act Section 404 and Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 permit and BLM’s Offer to Lease for the pipeline right of way at Donlin Gold.

The federal process has now been completed and Donlin Gold continues to work with the state agencies to advance all other required permits and approvals. Significant progress has been made, including issuance of the state air quality and Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) wastewater discharge permits; the pipeline and hazardous materials safety administration (PHMSA) special permit; the Title 16 fish habitat permits for the mine and transportation facilities; and the Waste Management permit; as well as the Reclamation and Closure Plan Approval (by the Alaska Departments of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources (ADEC & ADNR).

Progress has also been made on other key state authorizations. ADNR issued preliminary land use decisions for public comment proposing to authorize facilities associated with the project’s transportation corridor, including the access road and related material sites, airstrip, and upriver Jungjuk Port.  The public comment period for these decisions closed on March 29, 2019. Additionally, ADNR issued the State Pipeline Coordinator’s Section preliminary decision to authorize the sections of the pipeline on state lands. The comment period for this decision closed on March 22, 2019 after public meetings in Anchorage, Bethel, Aniak, McGrath, Tyonek, and Skwentna Roadhouse.

ADNR’s issuance of the Alaska Dam Safety certificates for the tailings storage facility and water retention and diversion structures requires a thorough stepwise process to deliver a final construction package to the State. The upcoming field program will be focused on completing a site investigation and collection of geotechnical information for the advancement of the engineering from a feasibility level to the final construction package. The site investigation information will support a preliminary design, detailed design and ultimately the final construction package, each of which will be submitted to ADNR for final approval and issuance of the certificates. We are currently in the advanced planning stage for the field program that will consist of geotechnical core drilling, test pits, overburden drilling, packer tests, hydrogeologic test well installation and pumping tests, and geophysical surveys. The field program will carry into 2020.

As one of the world’s largest and highest grade known undeveloped open pit gold resources, Donlin Gold is well positioned to benefit from rising gold prices. With key permits in hand, the Donlin Gold owners anticipate completion of the optimization work focused on reducing initial capital outlays and improving project economics, that will provide the basis for the owners to develop the best path forward for the project.

Chairman's Interview

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