On May 25, 2022, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner’s Office received notice of an appeal to the Alaska Superior Court from Earthjustice, an environmental, non-governmental law organization representing Orutsararmiut Native Council and the Native Village of Eek, challenging the DNR’s decision to issue 12 permits to appropriate water for the Donlin Gold Project (Project).
In April 2021, the DNR granted “Permits to Appropriate Water” to Donlin Gold, authorizing the use of water needed for future mine operations and protection of the environment. The DNR issued these permits after a thorough review that determined the use of water is in the public interest, as defined in Alaska Statute 46.15.080 (a)(4). The public was provided with multiple opportunities to review and comment on the applications. The DNR provided individual responses to all comments.
“Because of our extensive environmental dataset, developed from multiple years of research and study, we were well-positioned to prepare permit applications that were supported by a strong, science-based understanding of the watershed and aquatic resources in the mine site area,” said Dan Graham, General Manager for Donlin Gold. “The Y-K Delta residents interact with the Kuskokwim River daily. We understand the peoples’ dependency on the aquatic resources provided by the Kuskokwim River and tributary streams, like Crooked Creek, and understand the residents’ demand for sustainable resource management. The Project will protect the Kuskokwim River and the natural foods it puts on people’s tables, while providing strong economic prosperity to residents. Through job and business opportunities and royalty payments to Calista and The Kuskokwim Corporation, the Project will further enhance economic conditions in the region. We believe the DNR’s decision to issue Donlin Gold the water rights permits was based on careful review and strong science.”