The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Lands Office has announced the winning bid for a Matanuska Valley coal lease. Greg Jones, Executive Director for the Trust Lands Office, says an Australian company got the nod.
Riversdale submitted a bonus bid totalling 3 million dollars. Jones says there’s still some loose ends before finalizing the award.
Jones says he was surprised by the amount of interest in the lease offering. Usibelli Coal, Alaska Mining and Energy, and Arctic Coal LLC also bid on the lease.
The 9,927 acre lease is located near Chickaloon, and it is believed to contain low sulfur, bituminous coal. The lease is four dollars per acre per year, adjusted at five year intervals. The Trust will receive a royalty of five percent of the gross value of any coal mined and sold. But Jones says at this point, the lease only gives Riverdale limited rights.
Riverdale must apply for an exploration permit through the state Department of Natural Resources in order to evaluate the lease area and determine if the coal resource can be mined.
But some citizens of the Matanuska Valley are opposed to coal mining near homes. Coal mining opponents says coal dust poses a threat to health and the mining activity noise disrupts quality of life for those who live nearby. Jennifer Harrison, executive director for Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, says the Council is against coal mining.
Harrison says the coal lease area is too close to homes.
Jones says Trust lands leased for development provide income for state mental health and alcohol and drug dependency programs.
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