AIDEA, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, is conducting public, tribal, and agency outreach to evaluate a potential road corridor to the Ambler Mining District in northwest Alaska. As part of this evaluation, AIDEA is working to submit a permit application to federal agencies to begin a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the ANILCA Title XI review process.
The Ambler Mining District is an area with rich mineral resources, including copper, zinc, lead and gold. The area has been identified as a high-value resource area for many decades and exploration has occurred in several areas. There are currently large exploration projects underway at a number of potential sites, including Arctic, Bornite, Sun, and Smucker. A major issue limiting development of these mining prospects is surface transportation to the area to help in mine construction and to transport the mineral products during mine operations.
The State initiated studies of a possible road to the Ambler Mining District in 2009. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) conducted reconnaissance investigations looking at a number of possible road and railroad routes heading both east and west from the mining district. The preliminary studies evaluated the routes based on environmental and engineering criteria, including availability of suitable material sites for construction, presence of endangered species, fish and wildlife habitats, river crossings, federal conservation land restrictions, and other issues. The reconnaissance studies identified a potential corridor from the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District crossing through the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve.
In 2013 the project was transferred to AIDEA, developer of the successful Delong Mountain Transportation System (DMTS) used by the Red Dog Mine. AIDEA is a public corporation that promotes economic development in Alaska by providing access to affordable long term financing. Established by the state to increase job opportunities and encourage economic growth—including development of the State’s natural resources—AIDEA has financing expertise to work with industry to fund infrastructure needed to support economic development.
The project team is working with residents and communities to address their concerns and will be thoroughly investigating all potential impacts on communities and subsistence resources.