Strong Support for ADEC Commissioner’s Upholding Of Section 401 Certification
ANCHORAGE - Donlin Gold LLC, owned 50/50 by Barrick Gold Corporation and NovaGold Resources Inc., provided an update relating to the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification of the Donlin Gold project. An appeal has been filed against the decision by the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) in May 2021 to uphold the 401 Certification. It is being appealed in Alaska’s Superior Court by Earthjustice, a San Francisco-based activist law firm on behalf of the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC), the Tribal Council for Bethel, a village in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region.
Earthjustice’s original administrative appeal of the 401 Certification to the ADEC Commissioner followed several previous requests for informal review made by ONC of the issued 401 Certification in 2019 and 2020 which were granted by ADEC. We believe those informal reviews served to strengthen ADEC’s basis for their original decision. Having exhausted all administrative appeal options, Earthjustice filed an appeal in Alaska Superior Court on June 28, 2021, challenging the ADEC Commissioner’s decision to uphold the 401 Certification.
Donlin Gold strongly believes that the Commissioner’s decision to uphold the 401 Certification validates the project stakeholders’ commitment to advance the Donlin Gold project in a safe and environmentally responsible manner for the benefit of all Alaskans. Over a six-year period, Donlin Gold conducted an extensive, transparent, and independently reviewed scientific evaluation that included significant community participation and scrutiny, and consistently demonstrated that the project fully complies with the Clean Water Act, the Alaska Water Quality Standards, Anti-degradation analysis and other applicable State and Federal laws. The process culminated with the issuance of the 401 Certification by ADEC in 2018. The 401 Certification clearly demonstrates that the project fully complies with the high standards of environmental protection imposed by the State of Alaska and the appropriate agencies of the Federal government of the United States. Furthermore, ADEC’s findings, reflected in the 401 Certification, have provided the stakeholders of the Donlin Gold project with an extensive body of comprehensive information about aquatic life in Crooked Creek and the Kuskokwim River to ensure that the wellbeing of the people dependent upon a healthy eco-system is protected.
Of equal importance, Donlin Gold operates pursuant to the terms of a subsurface minerals and surface land lease with Calista Corporation and a surface land use agreement with The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC). Donlin Gold is being developed on private land that was selected by Calista and TKC at the direction of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region Elders in the 1970s. These agreements include a revenue-sharing structure, established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) of 1971, which resolved Alaska Native land claims, allotting 44 million acres of land for use by Alaska Native corporations. This land was selected by the people of the region, who are looking forward to the responsible and sustainable development of the Donlin Gold project.