Update: In a loss for Alaskan wilderness and its wildlife, the federal government issued final permits for the Donlin Creek gold mining project in August. The decision by the Army Corps and Bureau of Land Management quickly faced opposition from both environmental groups, as well as subsistence hunters and fishermen. The final environmental review shows that construction and operation of the mine will likely increase mercury levels in the air and water, cause damage to salmon habitat, and erode riverbanks.
The Army Corps of Engineers has published the final Environmental Impact Study for the Donlin Creek mining project in Alaska's remote Kuskokwim Mountains. E&E news reports that the proposed open-pit gold mine would span 25 square miles, and at peak production, it would produce 59,000 tons of ore a day. As confirmed by the Army Corps' review, the mine would alter the water volumes and routes of nearby tributaries of the Kuskokwim River, reduce stream habitat, and increase mercury levels in the soil. Although Donlin Creek has received less public opposition than the controversial Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay, indigenous communities and state environmental groups are speaking out against the mine. The Army Corps will make a final decision later this year.