Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC) Tribal Members and other Yukon-Kuskokwim region residents are opposed to the proposed Donlin mine by a wide margin, according to a survey conducted this summer by ONC: 76% opposed the project, while only 10.5% supported it.
The survey asked for residents’ and ONC Tribal Members’ opinions on the safety and environmental protection assurances of the Donlin Gold Project. It also asked them about their subsistence reliance on the Kuskokwim River. Over 300 residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim (YK) Delta answered the 18 question survey.
Survey highlights include:
● More than 300 Tribal members of the Orutsararmiut Native Council, Tribal members of at least 17 other native villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and area residents overall took the survey.
● 88% of participants indicated that they are Calista Corporation shareholders.
● 98% of respondents care deeply about subsistence way of life and hold opinions on the Donlin Gold Mine Project.
● 98% of participants indicated that they have a strong relationship with the environment and they place value in gathering a variety of subsistence foods year round.
● 89.3% of respondents are aware that the Donlin Mine Project would affect their community in some way — including potential for mercury pollution, effects on land and river subsistence gathering, and local economic boost with increased job opportunities.
● 70% of respondents have low confidence that the Donlin Gold Mine Project will protect the region’s air, water, and land resources.
● 67% of respondents indicated that they feel strongly opposed to the mine project, while about 6% indicated that they feel strongly supportive toward the project.
● As stated above, 76% of respondents said they oppose the project, while only 10.5% supported it.
● 66% of respondents indicated that they are aware of the Donlin Gold Mine Project’s plan for transporting spill risk substances like mercury and cyanide. However, only about 20% of the respondents have actually seen the plan.
● 69% of respondents indicated they feel they have not had the chance to learn everything they want to know about the proposed Donlin Gold Mine Project.
Two decades ago, Calista entered into an agreement to develop the Donlin deposit with neither input from shareholders nor a vote of shareholders to weigh in on the decision.
Along with the vast majority of ONC’s survey respondents, 13 Tribal Governments, the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Alaska Village Council Presidents and even the National Congress of American Indians are all opposed to the project.
“It is clear that our people have serious concerns about impacts to human health, the environment, and our river from a massive increase in barge traffic carrying cyanide and other chemicals; a major gas pipeline with road access; and other impacts that building the largest open pit mine in Alaska would bring to our region,” said Zack Brink, Executive Director of ONC. “Our Tribal Council has directed our Tribe to do all we can to prevent the development of this project, which is so clearly being pushed forward against the will of the people.”