[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 241 (Friday, December 14, 2012)]
[Pages 74470-74471]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-30198]



Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers

Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 
Donlin Gold Project

AGENCY: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The Alaska District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) 
intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to identify 
and analyze the potential impacts associated with the proposed Donlin 
Gold Project, which would be an open pit, hardrock gold mine located 10 
miles north of the village of Crooked Creek, Alaska. The Corps is the 
lead Federal agency; the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Alaska 
Department of Natural Resources will serve as cooperating agencies in 
developing the EIS. The Tribal governments of Crooked Creek, 
Chuathbaluk, and Napaimute have also indicated their intention to serve 
as cooperating agencies. The Corps will be evaluating a permit 
application for work and/or discharges of pollutants under Section 404 
of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 
1899. The EIS will be used as a basis for the permit decision in 
compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions about the proposed action 
and the DEIS should be referred to: Mr. Don Kuhle, Regulatory Division, 
telephone: (907) 753-2780, email: don.p.kuhle@usace.army.mil, or mail: 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 6898, Joint Base Elmendorf 
Richardson, AK 99506-0898. To be added to the project mailing list and 
for additional information, please visit the following web site: http://www.donlingoldeis.com.

    1. Proposed Action. Donlin Gold LLC is proposing the development of 
an open pit, hardrock gold mine located 277 miles west of Anchorage, 
145 miles northeast of Bethel, and 10 miles north of the community of 
Crooked Creek. The proposed project would require approximately 3 to 4 
years to construct with a projected mine life of approximately 27.5 
years. Major project components include excavation of an open pit, that 
ultimately would be approximately 2.2 miles long by 1 mile wide by 
1,850 feet deep; a waste treatment facility (tailings impoundment) 
approximately 1 mile long, and ultimately covering 2,350 acres; a waste 
rock facility covering approximately 2,300 acres; a mill facility 
processing approximately 59,000 short tons of ore per day; a natural 
gas-fired power plant with a total connected load of 227 MW, supplied 
by a 313-mile, small-diameter (approximately 14-inches), natural gas 
pipeline from the west side of Cook Inlet to the mine site; and 
transportation infrastructure including a 5,000-foot airstrip, a 30-
mile-long road from the mine site to a new barge landing near Jungjuk 
Creek on the Kuskokwim River, and barge terminal facilities in Bethel. 
The proposed mine and related facilities would have a total foot print 
of approximately 16,300 acres. There is currently no road or rail 
access to the site, which is isolated from existing power and other 
related infrastructure.
    The pipeline route would originate at the Beluga National Gas 
Pipeline, with a single compressor station at milepost 5. The route 
proceeds north to the Skwentna River, continuing alongside the Skwentna 
River to Puntilla Lake. It then crosses the Alaska Range through Rainy 
Pass and Rohn, before turning southwest to Farewell. The route then 
runs west along the north side of the Alaska Range to cross the 
Kuskokwim River at approximately Devil's Elbow. The last 80 miles 
follow ridgelines north

[[Page 74471]]

of the Kuskokwim River to the Donlin Gold mine site.
    2. Alternatives. A reasonable range of alternatives will be 
identified and evaluated through scoping and the alternatives 
development process.
    3. Scoping Process. The scoping period will extend from December 
14, 2012 through March 29, 2013.
    a. Public involvement. The Corps invites full public participation 
to promote open communication on the issues to be addressed in 
preparation of the EIS regarding the proposed action. All Federal, 
State, Tribal, and local agencies, and other interested persons or 
organizations, are urged to participate in the NEPA scoping process. 
Scoping meetings will be conducted to inform interested parties of the 
proposed project, receive public input on the development of proposed 
alternatives to be reviewed in the EIS, and to identify significant 
issues to be analyzed.
    b. Scoping meetings. The Corps plans to hold scoping meetings in 
Crooked Creek, Aniak, Bethel, and Anchorage in mid-January 2013. 
Scoping meetings in Akiak, Nunapitchuk, Kipnuk, Quinhagak, Toksook Bay, 
Hooper Bay, Emmonak, St. Mary's, Holy Cross, and McGrath are planned 
for late-January through March 2013. Information about these meetings 
and meeting dates will be published locally, posted at http://www.donlingoldeis.com, and available by contacting the Corps as 
previously described. A description of the proposed project will be 
posted on the project web site prior to these meetings to help the 
public focus their scoping comments.
    4. Issues To Be Analyzed in the EIS. The EIS will analyze the 
potential social, economic, physical, biological, and cultural resource 
impacts of the proposed project. Numerous issues will be analyzed in 
depth in the EIS related to the effects of mine and associated 
infrastructure construction, operation, and closure. These issues will 
include, but will not be limited to, the following: Wetlands, water 
quality, air quality, hazardous materials, fish and wildlife, special 
status species, vegetation, cultural resources, subsistence, human 
health, land use and management, socioeconomics, and cumulative 
    5. Other Environmental Review and Consultation Requirements. Other 
environmental review and consultation requirements include Executive 
Order 13175 Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 
1966, Endangered Species Act consultation; and subsistence uses in 
accordance with Section 810 of the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act.
    6. Land Ownership. The proposed mine is located predominately on 
lands owned by the Kuskokwim Corporation and the Calista Corporation, 
although some project components would be located on BLM, State of 
Alaska and CIRI Inc. lands.
    7. Estimated Date Draft EIS Available to Public. It is anticipated 
that the Draft EIS will be available in August 2014 for public review.

    Dated: November 28, 2012.
Don P. Kuhle,
Project Manager, Alaska District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
[FR Doc. 2012-30198 Filed 12-13-12; 8:45 am]