Alaska Peninsula Corporation strikes a land access deal with Pebble

A view from Newhalen, one of the communities that would be impacted by Alaska Peninsula Corporation’s agreement. (Photo by Avery Lill/KDLG)

The Alaska Peninsula Corporation announced Monday that it has signed a land agreement with the Pebble Limited Partnership, paving the way for a transportation corridor through APC lands.

If the proposed mine makes it through the permitting process, APC has agreed to allow Pebble to build a transportation corridor on APC land.

The corporation is celebrating the agreement, saying it would provide employment opportunities around the region and incentivize people to stay. APC said the deal would especially benefit the villages of Kokhanok and Newhalen.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity for everybody in the region,” said Brad Angasan, the vice president of corporate affairs for APC. “There’s a couple of benefits that are associated with the infrastructure development there. One is obviously the greater access to transportation and lower cost of energy through the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Cook Inlet to the port site at Amakdedori and through Alaska Peninsula Corporation lands to the project site. One of the deals we’ve worked out with Pebble is that APC villages at Kokhanok and Newhalen have access to that natural resource when it pipes into the region.”

Under the agreement, Pebble would have access to about 1,400 acres of APC land to develop transportation infrastructure, including roads, pipelines and ferry landing sites.

APC would receive annual toll payments and other fees from PLP before and during the mine’s construction and operation. It would also have preferred status in bids on Pebble-related contracts on the corporation’s lands.

Pebble has several options for transportation routes. While this agreement gives PLP the option to use APC lands, it could still choose an alternative, such as a northern route between Williamsport and Pile Bay.

APC is the merged Alaska Native village corporation of South Naknek, Port Heiden, Ugashik, Kokhanok and Newhalen. It has more than 900 shareholders and is one of the largest private landowners throughout the Bristol Bay region.

This is just one of a slew of permissions Pebble Limited Partnership needs to acquire in order to build a mine in the Iliamna Lake region. On the local level, the Lake and Peninsula Borough would need to issue a large project development permit to PLP. Lake and Peninsula representatives are currently travelling to communities seeking input on the proposed mine.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement it expects to publish this January. It will then be opened to public comment. The Army Corps estimates that the final EIS will be published late next year.