July 30, 2021

Wyn Menefee, Executive Director
Trust Land Office
Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
2600 Cordova Street
Anchorage, AK 99503
Submitted via [email protected]

Re: Decision to Issue a Negotiated Mineral Lease for Ester Dome Project – Fairbanks

Dear Ms. Menefee:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing to comment in support of the decision to issue a negotiated mineral lease for the Ester Dome Project on Mental Health Trust Authority land (MHTA).

RDC is a statewide trade association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism 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 supports responsible resource development on AMHT lands in Alaska, as it is in the best interest of Alaskans and AMHT beneficiaries. The negotiated mineral lease to conduct exploration activities in the project area is in its early stage, and activities associated with environmental study and deposit modeling will be conducted adhering to Alaska’s rigorous processes. Currently, there is no imminent plan to construct or operate a mine. Should the project proponents proceed with the next stage of mineral development, the extensive regulatory process will begin in which dozens of permits will need to be obtained. Throughout this stringent process, there will be multiple opportunities for the community and general public to provide input. Alaska’s mining industry has a successful record of working with stakeholders to ensure mines are compatible with their surrounding environment, and we expect that to remain the case at Ester Dome.

The AMHT was created to provide mental health care for Alaskans who suffer from mental illness, disability, and diseases. It was granted one million acres of resource-value lands to generate income for its programs and beneficiaries, and the Trust has an obligation to maximize revenues from the lands when it is shown development can be done responsibly. Issuing a lease to conduct the exploration activities to pursue responsible development is a prudent first step in generating Trust revenues, and other economic benefits for Alaska.

RDC appreciates the opportunity to comment.

Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.