BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska company is investing in programs for youths and others to fulfill its promise to hire local workers for a proposed gold mine project.

Donlin Goldspends $1 million annually on workforce development programs like Yuut Elitnaurviat and Excel Alaska, which train rural Alaskans for jobs near home, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Friday.

Two Native corporations own the mineral rights and land for the prospective gold mine 280 miles (451 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage.

Donlin helps fund scholarships from Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, as well as donating to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program.

Donlin promised to prioritize shareholders from the corporations. The company subsequently needs a pipeline of community shareholders already trained for jobs at a mine that may not begin operating for years.

The mine project is expected to last up to 27 years, according to Donlin Gold’s website


Excel Alaska takes students as early as seventh grade and tailors sessions to fit the skills each one needs to obtain a job in his or her village, providing training through high school.

“Basically, what we do is we take a look at what jobs that are available in the region,” said Carol Wilson, Excel Alaska executive director.

Donlin has already hired employees from Excel Alaska, based in Anchorage.

Jeremy Osborne, director of programs for Yuut Elitnaurviat in Bethel, is confident his students will be ready for jobs at the mine.

“So if the Donlin project goes,” he said, “we actually have the capacity to house 160 people, which is pretty darn good.”


Information from: KYUK-AM,