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Testimony of Marleanna Hall • Executive Director, Resource Development Council
Donlin Gold Draft EIS Meeting • Tuesday, January 28, 2016 Anchorage, AK 

Good evening. My name is Marleanna Hall and I am the Executive Director at the Resource Development Council for Alaska.

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 is here today to strongly support Alternative 2.

Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Calista selected the mineral rights at Donlin Gold, The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC) selected the surface estate, both in efforts to benefit shareholders from the development and production of the mineral resources. This economic opportunity for shareholders and descendants of Calista is precisely the purpose behind Congress’ grant of entitlement of these lands to Calista and TKC.

There are many social and economic benefits of this project to the region, state, and to the nation, including:

  • Through the ANCSA 7(i) and 7(j) revenue sharing provisions, the Donlin Gold project will provide revenue to all Alaska Native regional and village corporations and shareholders.
  • The jobs and the economic stimulus provided by Donlin Gold would help sustain communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (YK) region and fund traditional and subsistence activities.
  • The potential for lower cost energy options to the region as the proposed natural gas pipeline will have excess capacity should there be an interest in accessing natural gas to address the energy needs of the YK region.

An estimated 3,000 jobs will be created during the approximate four-year construction phase, and up to 1,200 jobs for the estimated mine life of 27.5 years. These jobs will have a significant and positive impact on the economy of the region and the state, especially in a region that experiences some of the highest unemployment rates. This will likely lead to reduced out-migration, helping to maintain rural schools and culture, including a traditional way of life.

An example to compare the positive potential benefits of a project like this is the Red Dog Mine in Northwest Alaska.

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.

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. 

RDC supports the rigorous permitting process that has already permitted the six large mines under the review of NEPA and the scientifically-based process which includes over 60 major state and federal permits and authorizations. Alaska’s existing mines are operating to the highest standards and in harmony with our renewable resources. Donlin’s project description demonstrates an understanding of environmental concerns, and features vigorous environmental management principles.

We look forward to further participating in the public process for this project. We believe the EIS process gives Alaskans adequate time to fully review the project documents, and to provide input on the plans. As what I have mentioned is just some of the highlights of the project, RDC will submit comprehensive comments before the April 30th deadline.

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