Brooks Range Council

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November 30, 2015

Ambler road: Why spend state money to stop an already dead megaproject?

John Gaedeke, president of Brooks Range Council, addresses the question of funding a project that has no future.

Why the governor’s sudden change of heart? Right now the difference of $6 million in state spending could keep the doors on 58 schools open. AIDEA could be funding infrastructure for Alaskans, rather than foreign companies. Many villages in the ill-conceived Ambler road corridor’s region are still without sewer and water. AIDEA’s motto is “investing in Alaskans,” and Gov. Walker should encourage projects that do so.

Instead, the main benefactor of the $3.6 million and the road is Canada’s NovaCopper, whose CEO Rick van Nieuwenhuyse has lobbied hard for the state to build a road 220 miles long, over 15 major rivers, to NovaCopper’s mining claims. NovaCopper wants AIDEA to fund the road, a road AIDEA firmly states will never be open for Alaskans’ public use.

NovaCopper’s CEO has had some tough luck with mining proposals in the past: He led development of the Rock Creek Mine in Nome. The state built a 3-mile “road to resources” for that mine and the city supplied electricity. After being given “expedited review” with no EIS, the mine operated only 2 months before being shut down. The water management system failed and conditions on permits were not met, resulting in one of the biggest Clean Water Act fines ever assessed in the Northwest at the time. The buildings and equipment are currently being dismantled and sold off by Bering Strait Native Corp., which took over reclamation…” read the full article here.


KTUU Anchorage addresses the proposed Ambler road

“I don’t know why there’s so much corporate welfare being put forward in this time of economic tightness,” said Gaedeke. “There’s no black Friday out in the villages. They do some fishing and some hunting and they need to have that minimum to maintain their life out there.” read the full article here.

November 23, 2015

Nome’s mine permanently closes after NovaGold violates Clean Water Act

“The mine was originally owned by Canadian mining company NovaGold and operated by its subsidiary, Alaska Gold. It opened briefly in 2008 before shutting its doors just months later. In the two years of preproduction and the two months of actual production, the mine went more than $20 million over budget, lost two of its workers in a construction-related accident, and violated the Clean Water Act, resulting in over $800,000 in federal fines.”

Read the full article here: Gold dreams scrapped at Nome’s defunct mine

Now the same CEO of the defunct Rock Creek Mine is hoping for more help from the State of Alaska this time at the Ambler Mining District, 220 miles of road for starters…