Donlin Gold and the Kuskokwim Corporation have signed a surface rights agreement for the proposed gold mine located 120 miles upriver of Bethel. The deal gives the native corporation rights to some construction contracts and sets financial terms for decades to come.
The regional native corporation, Calista, owns subsurface rights at the Donlin site, while The Kuskokwim Corporation, has the surface rights. Maver Carey is President and CEO of TKC. She says the financial terms are confidential.
“I can say that over the next few years we’ve got a few milestone payments that Donlin has agreed to pay us, for example the signing bonus for actually signing the agreement,” Carey said. “What we’ve done with that is create our first elders dividend, and then a portion we need to use to get our companies ready to go.”
The open-pit gold mine that Donlin Gold is now working toward has been in the works for over a decade. It’s currently in the permitting stage. The Kuskokwim Corporation was formed in 1977 with 10 upper river village corporations merged. They have around $3,000 shareholders and a portfolio of companies from construction and apartments to aerospace operations.
The new companies would construct and operate a new port on the Kuskokwim River, downriver from Crooked Creek serving a couple of Donlin barges carrying fuel and supplies. TKC secured the right to the contract in the agreement. The deal replaces an agreement set to expire next year and sets the terms for accessing and building on the land.
The corporation also plans to play a big role in the reclamation of the mine site decades into the future after the millions of ounces of gold have been dug out.
“It just marks a milestone in that partnership that has been going on for some time,” Kurt Parkan, external affairs manager for Donlin Gold, said. “It’s an agreement with both entities to advance the project into the future.”
The agreement runs until 2031 and can be extended if and when the mine comes into operation. Carey says the agreement has provisions for shareholder scholarships and hiring. While the company calls it a historic agreement, Carey says the agreement does not mean instant wealth.
“Instead it’s a legacy we’re going to leave for our children and grandchildren, and when I say legacy, not just a financial legacy,” Carey said. “We have a lot to do in terms of training and employment opportunities, so our children and grandchildren can be CEOs of the new subsidiaries we’re creating.”
The open-pit mine would be among the largest gold mines in the world. The project is owned by Nova Gold and Barrick Gold, two Canadian companies.