Resource Development Council

RDC Comment Letter:
Donlin Gas Pipeline Right-of-Way Lease Request

View RDC Testimony October 15, 2014
View Action Alert

January 28, 2015

State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources
State Pipeline Coordinator’s Office
411 West 4th Avenue, Suite 2
Anchorage, AK 99501

Via email to:

Re: Donlin Gold’s gas pipeline right-of-way lease request

To Whom It May Concern:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing in support of approval of the Donlin Gold, LLC (Donlin) gas pipeline right-of-way lease request.

RDC is a statewide business association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, forest products, tourism, and fisheries industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native Corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

RDC urges the State Pipeline Coordinator’s Office to approve the right-of-way lease request for the gas pipeline for the proposed Donlin Gold project site. Donlin’s application for a right-of-way lease for a natural gas pipeline from Cook Inlet to the proposed mine north of Crooked Creek will be for a 14-inch diameter, 315-mile line beginning at the Beluga gas field 30 miles west of Anchorage and ending at the proposed Donlin mine site.

The gas pipeline will provide a stable source of energy for the Donlin project, and has the potential to offer the same to local communities if they choose to tie into the gas pipeline at a later date. The pipeline will bring natural gas closer to rural Alaska, and potentially offer lower cost energy options to the region and job opportunities leading to reduced out-migration. The gas pipeline is also a superior energy source than other options, and offers a better delivery method.

Additionally, construction of the pipeline, potentially beginning in 2016 and lasting three to four years, will provide jobs to Alaskans.

Donlin proposed the gas pipeline as an alternative after residents along the Kuskokwim expressed concerns about barge traffic delivering diesel to the project. The pipeline will reduce expected barge traffic on the river.

Furthermore, the gas pipeline infrastructure may offer development opportunities for properties along the pipeline corridor, including Calista and Cook Inlet Region, Inc. lands.

Donlin has committed to burying much of the pipeline to reduce visual impact and environmental footprint, as well as reclaiming temporary infrastructure, such as roads and landing strips.

Further, the footprint of the proposed pipeline is narrow as to reduce environmental impact. Permanent infrastructure of the pipeline will be minimal, and winter construction will reduce impacts to other uses, including sport and subsistence hunting.

The proposed pipeline project includes designs to mitigate potential seismic disturbances at the Denali Fault crossing, and manual check valves about every 20 miles to protect against leaks. Local users, including hunters, have been kept informed of the proposed project and pipeline, and Donlin has avoided working on baseline studies through the hunting season to mitigate any disturbance from helicopter traffic.

The Iditarod Trail Committee, Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the Iron Dog Race, and other users have been kept informed of the proposed project and pipeline. The route has been optimized to reduce overlap with the historic Iditarod Trail, including rerouting through the Jones River valley – which ultimately will reduce 50 miles of overlap with the tail.

About the Donlin Gold project

The Donlin Gold project is located in a region of Alaska that experiences some of the highest unemployment rates and has very few other opportunities. Through the exploration stages, Donlin has shown a strong commitment to local hire and for supporting communities and cultures in the region. A project like this truly is a rare opportunity to improve the local economy where few other opportunities exist.

New mining operations in the area, should they come to fruition, can be of great economic benefit to Alaska and local communities, as well as Alaska Native corporations and shareholders. The Donlin project could produce gold for over 25 years, while providing well paying jobs in a region where few other opportunities exist. Pipeline construction would provide 500 of the approximate 3,000 project jobs.

The project will benefit Alaska Native corporations statewide. Royalties paid to the Kuskokwim Corporation and Calista Corporation will in part be redistributed to other regional and village corporations. The Donlin project will likely provide responsible economic prospects for this region and for Alaska, while protecting the subsistence resources.

If developed, RDC believes it will be done in a way that creates opportunity for local employment and economic growth, while protecting the subsistence resources and culture of the region, and protecting the environment.


In closing, RDC again urges the State Pipeline Coordinator’s Office to approve the right-of-way lease request for the gas pipeline for the proposed Donlin Gold project site. RDC believes a gas pipeline to Western Alaska is much needed, and without stable energy, projects like Donlin in rural Alaska will likely not be feasible.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important project.

Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.