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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 permitting agency. Permitting in Alaska is a clearly defined environmental review process which is coordinated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a procedural law that governs the process by which most major projects in the United States are evaluated.

Current permitting activities at Donlin Gold are focused on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is the most time consuming aspect of the NEPA process and in large part, drives the overall permitting timeline for the project. The process involves multiple public comment opportunities and will require more than 100 permit applications. Many issues have been identified and thoroughly considered in the EIS process with significant and early input by cooperating agencies as well as the public. The EIS is comprised of four sections:

  • Outline of the purpose and need for the development of the proposed mine and the benefit it would bring to the stakeholders of Donlin Gold’s Alaska Native Corporation partners, Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC).
  • Identify and analyze a reasonable range of alternatives to the mine development proposed by Donlin Gold which comprise variations on certain mine site facility designs, as well as local transportation and power supply options.
  • Prepare an environmental analysis of the proposed action and reasonable alternatives (including a no action alternative), which identifies and characterizes the potential physical, biological, social, and cultural impacts relative to the existing baseline conditions. This portion constitutes the most extensive part of the EIS.
  • Describe potential mitigation measures intended to reduce or eliminate the environmental impacts described in the impact analysis section.

The Corps has completed the final EIS and anticipates issuing the document and publishing a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register shortly. The Corps’ ROD is expected to follow in the second half of this year. The ROD will describe both the legal and technical basis for the Corps’ permitting decision. The permits that authorize project construction should be issued shortly after the ROD. Between publishing the final EIS and the issuance of the ROD, the Corps must complete several activities, including preparation of both the ROD and Section 404 permit which would then be sent to the State to ensure that the decision complies with Alaska’s water quality standards. The Corps will also document its compliance with Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act; the detailed evaluation showing why the permitted project represents the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative compared to other project options reviewed. In addition, other consultations that had been commenced earlier in the EIS process would be finalized, including compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act which protects essential fish habitat.

Significant progress has been achieved toward securing other major state permits, including completion of the public comment period for the draft water discharge and integrated waste management permits. Other key state and federal permits and approvals are scheduled to be finalized concurrently with or shortly after the Corps’ ROD.

Concurrent with the NEPA analysis, Donlin Gold continues to work with State and Federal agencies to advance all other required permits and approvals, including the air quality, pipeline authorizations, water use and fish habitat permits, as well as land and shoreline lease and right-of-way approvals. Notably, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Air Quality issued the final Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit on June 30, 2017, and the draft water discharge, integrated waste management and reclamation and closure plan permits are expected to be released for public comment by the end of 2017. We look forward to achieving these key project permitting milestones. NOVAGOLD has sufficient financial resources to advance Donlin Gold through permitting.

Donlin Gold Permitting Graphic

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