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Gov. Walker releases Ambler Road funds

 

Last updated 12/7/2018 at 6:35am

Trilogy Metals Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects, Arctic Mine, Bornite copper cobalt

Novagold Resources Inc.

Drilling at the Arctic Mine project in the Ambler Mining District has outlined a high-grade deposit with enough ore to support a mine expected to produce 1.9 billion pounds of copper, 2.4 billion lb of zinc, 405 million lb of lead, 367,531 ounces of gold and 40.2 million oz of silver over an initial 12-year mine life.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker Nov. 27 approved the release of funds to complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the Ambler Mining District Access Project, a proposed 211-mile industrial access road that would link one of the richest known undeveloped mineral regions on Earth to Alaska's highway system.

"The Ambler Mining District provides an immense opportunity for economic development in northern Alaska and moving through the EIS process is an important step to make sure that happens," said Gov. Walker.

With a reasonable expectation that the rich mineral resources in the Ambler district would pay for the road and bolster the local and state economies for decades to come, Alaska began studies on the potential of developing access to the region in 2009.

This budding road project was turned over to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a quasi-state-owned entity with the financing and management expertise to take on a project of this size, in 2013.

It is expected that mines developed in the Ambler district will pay tolls that will reimburse AIDEA for the costs to permit and build the road.

Gov. Bill Walker

A similar arrangement has proved a success at the Red Dog Mine, where AIDEA has recouped the US$267 million it invested in building and maintaining 52-mile road and port facilities constructed to deliver zinc mined at Red Dog to world markets and pays a dividend to state coffers from the profits it gets from ongoing tolls.

The Ambler Road Project is well into the federal permitting process but AIDEA needs US$3.6 million that was frozen by an administrative order signed by Gov. Walker in 2014 that placed a temporary suspension on all "mega-projects" being funded by the state to complete the EIS.

"Now that Alaska is on firmer financial ground, it is appropriate to spend money on this project," Gov. Walker said on Nov. 27.

After Bureau of Land Management, the lead agency for the EIS permitting process for the Ambler Road, issues a Record of Decision, AIDEA will make a final decision to pursue a road.

–SHANE LASLEY

Ambler Mining District access road map Trilogy Metals AIDEA NANA South32Trilogy Metals Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects, Arctic Mine, Bornite copper cobalt

 

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