AIDEA Studying Ambler Access Supply Chain

Apr 26, 2022 | Government, Mining, News

commercial fishing boat at Seward

The coal conveyor at Seward Boat Harbor at the southern end of the Alaska Railroad.


Despite a setback from the Biden administration, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) is studying the supply chain corridor for a road to the Ambler Mining District.  

Holistic Route

The AIDEA board approved an independent technical feasibility study of the comprehensive Ambler Mining District supply chain, from mine to road to rail to port.

“The access road to the Ambler Mining District is one part of the logistics chain,” says board chair Dana Pruhs. “We need to look at this holistically to identify and mitigate transportation bottlenecks.” The technical feasibility study will evaluate ore concentrate routes from the intersection of the Ambler Road and the Dalton Highway via rail to Port MacKenzie in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Port of Alaska in Anchorage, and the export terminals at Seward and Whittier.

The Board approved spending up to $250,000 from the Arctic Infrastructure Development Fund to competitively procure the technical feasibility analysis.

“The known resources of the mining district include abundant deposits of copper and critical minerals essential to growing our nation’s tech-focused economy and military preparedness,” says AIDEA Executive Director Alan Weitzner. “Establishing access through the Ambler Access Project has the potential to lead to up to five concurrent mine operations over time, which will have broad impacts to Alaska’s existing transportation infrastructure.”

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April 2024

The Ambler Access Project is a proposed 211-mile road from the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District in the Northwest Arctic Borough. A 25-mile stretch would run through Gates of the Arctic National Park.

In 2021, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) granted a fifty-year right-of-way over federal lands, but in March the Department of Interior suspended that decision. The department determined that BLM did not properly evaluate the effects of the road on subsistence uses or adequately consult with tribes. 

AIDEA says the suspension notice did not cite any specific deficiencies or any way to correct the problem.

AIDEA had planned more than $30 million worth of field work in 2022, half funded by the state-backed corporation and half by Ambler Metals, a joint venture owned by South32 Limited and Trilogy Metals. The field work would inform a budget for a final investment decision in 2024.

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