April 29, 2009

Plans for Alaskan gold mine revealed

Canadian mining companies NovaGold Resources and Barrick Gold Corp. say they are moving forward with plans to develop a gold mine in southwest Alaska.

The companies are pursuing permits to develop an open-pit mine near Donlin Creek that would extract up to 30 million ounces of gold, worth billions of dollars, the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

The plans call for a mine costing $4.5 billion that would hire up to 500 workers and extract 1.3 million ounces of gold a year for 21 years, officials said.

When plans were revealed Wednesday morning, Steve Borell, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association mused, Wow, is that economic or not? the newspaper said.

From a social standpoint, the mine would create jobs in an area of high employment, a longstanding dream of some corporate Yup'ik Native leaders.

At the same time, residents are concerned about destruction of salmon habitat and erosion that could result in the Kuskokwim River basin, a remote area 270 miles west of Anchorage, the newspaper said.