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BLM requests public input on Ambler Road

 

Last updated 9/6/2019 at 5:19am

Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects UKMP Arctic Bornite mine devlopment

Trilogy Metals Inc.

From a vantage across the valley, Trilogy Metals President Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse and Senior Director of Operations Bob Jacko discuss plans for developing an open-pit mine at the Arctic project in the Ambler Mining District.

United States Bureau of Land Management Aug. 30 published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Road to the Federal Register, marking the official start of a 45-day public comment period for this proposed 211-mile transportation corridor to one of the richest undeveloped minerals districts in Alaska.

Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which is expected to build and maintain the Ambler road and be paid back from collecting tolls from mines developed in the Ambler District, applied for the permits to build the road in 2015.

The route preferred by AIDEA runs nearly due west from the Dalton Highway along the south side of the Brooks Range to the Ambler District.

The Draft EIS considers two other alternatives – B, which primarily follows the same route as A but jogs to the south prior to crossing a small extension of the Gates of the Arctic National Park; and C, a 332-mile route that would depart the Dalton Highway just north of the Yukon River and travel northwest to the Ambler District.

Any of these roads would be open only to mining-related industrial use and closed to the public.

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) requires that right-of-way access for a road to the Ambler District be permitted across Gates of the Arctic National Park and all appropriate federal agencies outside the National Park Service to work cooperatively on a single environmental analysis and concurrently issue a decision on the proposal.

In parallel with the DEIS, NPS is carrying out Draft Environmental and Economic Analysis for the two routes that pass through the park – alternatives A (26 miles) and B (18 miles)

At the terminus of all the routes lies the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP), a partnership that brings Bornite and a number of other copper-rich prospects on NANA-owned lands together with the world-class Arctic deposit and dozens of similar volcanogenic massive sulfide prospects located on Trilogy's state, federal and patented mining claims in the Ambler Mining District.

Located a mere 16 miles apart, Arctic and Bornite are each considered world-class copper assets that would have long since been developed if not for their remote location in Northwest Alaska.

Together, Arctic and Bornite host roughly 8.9 billion pounds of copper, 3.6 billion lb of zinc, 626 million lb of lead, 77 million lb of cobalt, 770,000 ounces of gold and 58.3 million oz of silver. And, the copper and cobalt contingents are expected to grow significantly when expansion areas of the Bornite project are brought into the resource.

A feasibility study for developing a mine at Arctic, the most advanced of the UKMP projects, is expected to be completed early next year.

"The completion of the Draft EIS marks a critical step in the permitting of the AMDIAP (Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Project), which is a crucial to unlocking the incredible mineral wealth within the Ambler Mining District," said Trilogy Metals President and CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse. "The development of the Ambler District will lead to the generation of thousands of high paying jobs for the residents of Alaska."

AIDEA estimates that building the Ambler Road will create an annual average of about 486 jobs and up to 68 full-time employees will be needed to maintain and operate the gated industrial corridor.

With this road access, AIDEA sees the potential of at least four mines being developed in the Ambler District – Arctic and Bornite; Smucker to the west; and Sun to the east.

The development and operation of these mines would generate thousands of jobs and pay hundred of millions of dollars in annual wages, not to mention money flowing to NANA, as well as municipal and state governments.

Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects UKMP Arctic Bornite mine devlopment

Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority

This map shows the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Road Alternative A (yellow) and Alternative B (orange).

"The BLM conducted extensive public outreach for this project and visited many remote communities that would be most affected by the road," said BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett. "I realize the importance of this project to the state of Alaska and for the state's ability to develop its resources and as such, I am committed to ensuring a thorough and comprehensive analysis. This can't be done without substantive input from stakeholders."

To gather this input, BLM will be carry out public meetings about the Draft EIS for the Ambler Road in Alatna, Allakaket, Ambler, Anaktuvuk Pass, Anchorage, Bettles, Coldfoot, Evansville, Fairbanks, Hughes, Huslia, Kiana, Kobuk, Kotzebue, Noatak, Noorvik, Selawik, Shungnak, Stevens Village, Tanana, Wiseman and Washington, D.C.

Comments can also be submitted online at https://www.blm.gov/AmblerRoadEIS; and by mail to Ambler Road DEIS Comments, BLM Fairbanks District Office, 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks AK 99709.

–SHANE LASLEY

 

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