by Andrew Guy
Yukon Kuskokwim communities have some of the highest unemployment rates in Alaska and some of the highest costs for goods and services.
We cannot alleviate these hardships without access to living-wage jobs, infrastructure, and affordable energy.
Calista Corporation’s obligation to our shareholders is to pursue economic development while protecting our subsistence way of life. We do this with careful oversight and review of the risks and benefits of any project on our lands.
Calista owns the mineral resource for the proposed Donlin Gold Project. From our board of directors down to our employees, Calista is committed to active project oversight and gathering input from shareholders.
Calista supports Donlin Gold because it is the brightest economic prospect in our region, with the potential to reduce unemployment and the cost of living in many of our communities. It will increase our shareholder distributions, scholarships and elder benefits.
We also support Donlin Gold because it provides opportunities for significant infrastructure development that can benefit our region. The project proposal includes building a natural gas pipeline and laying fiber-optic cable to the mine site.
The excess pipeline capacity and fiber optic expansion gives us the opportunity to consider and identify the potential to pursue electrical power interties and increase Internet services for communities in our region.
These are all key benefits for the region at a time when the state’s finances are suffering, and federal funding is less available to Alaskans. These key benefits can enable us to lower our dependence on federal and state funding.
The Red Dog Mine on NANA lands has operated for 30 years and provides a good case study for how remote communities in Alaska benefit from sustainable resource development.
Alaska’s modern mines have a strong track record for environmental performance. A 2015 Institute of Social and Economic Research study found that fish habitat and water quality at Red Dog are better than they were before mining began.
Red Dog continues to provide living-wage jobs that support a rural lifestyle of hunting, fishing and berry picking.
Regional Alaska Native Corporations are required to share royalties from mineral extraction on their lands—such as Red Dog —with their sister corporations. Calista in turn shares these proceeds with the 46 village corporations in our region.
Donlin Gold royalties would similarly be shared with other Native corporations for the benefit of their shareholders.
Royalty sharing has historically kept many Alaska Native Corporations from going bankrupt. To this day, Red Dog payments are a significant source of income for regional and village corporations.
At Calista, we are committed to sustainable development and protecting our way of life for generations of shareholders.
This is our prerequisite for Donlin Gold and any other use of Calista lands.
Andrew Guy is the Calista Corporation President/CEO.