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BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — How a massive gold mine proposed in western Alaska will clean up after itself and pay for it were the topics of a public meeting in Bethel.

More than two dozen people expressed their views Tuesday about the proposed Donlin Gold Mine at the meeting requested by the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Alliance, KYUK-AM reported .

The Bethel-based organization opposes the open-pit mining project, which is planned for a site 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the village of Crooked Creek in the Upper Kuskokwim River drainage. The project is proposed for lands owned by The Kuskokwim Corp. and Calista Corp.

The meeting was to focus on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft approval of the plans for reclaiming the mine site and its financial assurances.

The mine will be required by state law to pay $317 million for the cleanup and land restoration efforts. The mine expects to operate for at least 27 years.

Area residents voiced skepticism about the amount, questioning who would pay for the cleanup if the mine goes bankrupt and the state can’t cover the cost.

“This is a subsistence economy,” said Alyssa Rogers, a co-founder of the river alliance. “It always will be and it always has been.”

Voicing opposition to the mine, William Charlie Brown, an Elder from Eek, said that if a mining accident were to occur, it could contaminate the Kuskokwim River — a vital food source for the region.

The Kuskokwim Corp. consulted with independent experts and worked with the mine, the state and Calista Corp. to form the current reclamation plans, said Maver Carey, CEO of The Kuskokwim Corporation.

“Responsible economic development is a critical factor for our corporation,” Carey said. “Responsibly developing our land and natural resources was what our forefathers and founders identified when selecting lands, including mineral rich lands, for the betterment of all TKC shareholders.”


Information from: KYUK-AM,