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BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — More than 130 shareholders of Calista Corp. are protesting a massive open-pit gold mine proposed in western Alaska.

The group of shareholders, all women, sent a letter to the Alaska Native corporation, citing concerns about how the Donlin Gold Mine would affect the Kuskokwim River, KYUK-AM reported Thursday.

Calista owns the subsurface rights to the mine planned for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region.

“We are Indigenous women of the Calista region with strong physical, emotional, and spiritual ties to the people and the land,” the letter states. “We are also Calista shareholders who are concerned with the development of the Donlin gold mine and how that will impact our salmon-spawning river.”

The river is the primary food source for the region that heavily relies on subsistence.

Bev Hoffman, a long-time mine opponent, led the effort to draft the letter and gather signatures. Calista signed the lease two decades ago without shareholder input, so this letter shows the corporation that not all shareholders support the mine, she said.

“They say it’s going to be great for the region — I would welcome a vote from shareholders,” Hoffman said.

Calista defended its support for the mine in a statement, saying its staff members also practice subsistence and have the same stake in the environmental health of the region.

“We waited until science and data showed that (National Environmental Policy Act) protections and regulations worked,” the corporation said. “Further, Calista continues to support the public comment process so that concerns and questions can be raised, and more importantly, be addressed.”

Donlin Gold declined to comment, saying the letter is matter between Calista and its shareholders.


Information from: KYUK-AM,