State approves waste management permit, reclamation and closure plan and financial assurance plan.
January 18, 2019: Donlin Gold received two permit decisions with the issuance of its Waste Management permit from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), which details how solid, liquid and hazardous waste will be handled, and the Reclamation Plan (Plan) approval, including Financial Assurance requirements, from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), which approves how the company plans to close the mine and establishes a financial guarantee for reclamation, mitigation and long-term care and maintenance of the site including water management and treatment.
An integral part of the Plan is the financial assurance to ensure adequate funds are available to cover all costs in the highly unlikely event the State of Alaska would have to assume responsibility for closure and long-term care of the site.
Prior to the start of construction, Donlin Gold will provide a $322 million bond to cover both site reclamation costs and to pay for water management and treatment. The bond total is based on a very detailed engineering analysis that has been reviewed by ADNR and ADEC mining team staff as well as Calista and TKC.
ADNR, with concurrence from ADEC’s Division of Water approved the Plan and cost estimate, following January 2018 hearings in Aniak, Bethel and Anchorage, an additional August 2018 public hearing in Bethel and an extended public comment period.
As required by State law, Donlin Gold proposes to remove all buildings and equipment, aside from the water management and treatment facilities, when the mine closes. Water from the tailings storage facility will be transferred into the pit, which will eventually become a lake. The tailings storage facility, along with the waste rock facility and other disturbed areas, will be reclaimed by being re-contoured, covered with soil as needed and vegetated. It will take an estimated six years to close the mine and complete reclamation.
After reclamation and closure, water in the pit lake will be monitored on an ongoing basis and treated to water-quality standards before any releases, which Donlin Gold estimates will begin approximately 52 years after mine operations cease. Donlin Gold and the State estimate that it will cost just under $4 million a year to monitor and treat the water and maintain the treatment plant. All of these costs are accounted for in the financial assurance.
Donlin Gold’s reclamation plans, cost estimates and investments will be evaluated by the State a minimum of every five years to ensure sufficient funds are always in place to cover all costs.
The Donlin Gold project is in Western Alaska in the Yukon Kuskokwim region, 280 miles from Anchorage, 150 miles from Bethel and 60 miles from Aniak. Donlin Gold is a high-grade gold deposit with approximately 39 million ounces of gold in the measured and indicated category at an average grade of 2.24 grams per tonne. The proposed open pit mine is estimated to have a life of 27-plus years.
Donlin Gold is equally owned by NOVAGOLD Resources Alaska, Inc. and Barrick Gold US, Inc. They are wholly-owned subsidiaries of NOVAGOLD RESOURCES Inc. and Barrick Gold Corporation, respectively.