Doyon, NANA leaders visit Ambler District
Tribal leaders discuss benefits from future mines and road North of 60 Mining News – August 19, 2022
Last updated 9/3/2022 at 11:30am
Chiefs from the Doyon region and village leaders from the NANA region came together for a meeting at Ambler Metals' Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects to gain a first-hand understanding of the mining proposed for the Ambler Mining District, as well as to discuss the economic benefits this resource development and a proposed road into the region could have on both the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regions represented.
"One of our core values is respect – for people, the land, the culture and the environment," says Ramzi Fawaz, Ambler Metals President and CEO. "There is no better way to learn from one another than to spend time in conversation, listening, gaining knowledge from the long-time stewards of the land, and working together toward common goals."
World-class but isolated mining district
Located in the NANA region of Northwest Alaska, the Ambler Mining District hosts high-grade deposits and prospects enriched with copper, zinc, lead, cobalt, silver, gold, and other metals.
In 2011, NANA Corp. entered into a partnership with Trilogy Metal Inc. to consolidate NANA-owned land and public lands held by Trilogy into a single 448,217-acre land package known as Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects, or UKMP.
Ambler Metals – a joint venture partnership owned equally by Trilogy and South32 Ltd. to advance the development of mines in UKMP – was formed in 2020.
The land contributed to UKMP by NANA hosts Bornite, a large and high-grade bornite copper-cobalt deposit. The lands brought to the partnership by Ambler host Arctic, a world-class volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit that is envisioned to be the site of the first mine in the Ambler District.
Located only about 15 miles apart, these deposits host roughly 8.9 billion lb of copper, 3.6 billion lb of zinc, 626 million lb of lead, 88 million lb of cobalt, 770,000 ounces of gold, and 58.3 million oz of silver in the indicated and inferred resource categories. In addition, there are dozens of other similar targets across the UKMP land package.
These deposits, however, are roughly 200 miles west of the nearest road needed to deliver metal-rich concentrates to global markets.
To rectify this lack of requisite infrastructure, a road has been proposed to link the Ambler District in the NANA Region to the Dalton Highway and Alaska's contiguous road and rail system in the Doyon region.
Federal permits were issued for the construction of this industrial access road, but earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Interior requested a voluntary remand of the previous authorization of this critical link between the Ambler District and Dalton Highway.
Further details on the remand of permits for the Ambler Road can be read at White House puts up an Ambler roadblock and Federal judge affirms Ambler Road remand in the March 14, 2022, and May 18, 2022 issues of North of 60 Mining News.
Making a connection in the Ambler District
While many residents of NANA villages in and around the Ambler District would like to see the proposed mines and road come to fruition, there has been some concern from Doyon shareholders that the road threatens subsistence resources.
To discuss these matters, tribal chiefs from three of the Doyon villages near the eastern end of the planned Ambler Road – Chief Harding Sam of Alatna, Chief Lawrence Williams of Allakaket, and Chief Wilmer Beetus of Hughes – met with leaders from four NANA villages in the Ambler District – Shungnak President Fred Sun, Ambler President Miles Cleveland, Kiana President Ely Cyrus, and Kobuk council member Gena Linus.
Shungnak resident Linda Lee also joined the Doyon and NANA tribal leaders that came together at UKMP to discuss the economic benefits of the proposed mines and roads.
During the visit, this group was able to experience first-hand a wide variety of work that is currently being conducted by local residents and expand their understanding of the long-term benefits of workforce development spanning exploration, construction, operations, reclamation, and closure.
It is expected that the development of mines at UKMP and a road to the Ambler District will provide hundreds of jobs, lower transportation costs of fuel and other supplies, and fund essential government services in this remote region of Alaska.
NANA already benefits from Red Dog, a world-class zinc mine located on NANA lands about 170 miles northwest of UKMP.
"One of the main economic pillars of our region's economy is based around responsible resource development," said Cyrus.
During the Ambler District visit, the tribal leaders held a private roundtable discussion.
"Conversations such as this have the potential to inform and empower our tribes on ways to provide a path for employment for our people and is a forum for our voices to be heard on the importance of subsistence resources and lands," Cyrus added.
Trilogy Metals says future engagement and input from tribal leaders will help significantly shape the project so that the land and people of the region can continue to thrive in traditional ways, while bringing new economic opportunities to the area.
"There are tremendously positive takeaways from this site visit, and I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the tribal Chiefs and Presidents from both regions for sharing their expertise and expanding our relationships," said Fawaz.