Readying 2022 Pre-Development of the Ambler Mining Road
A proposed road connecting the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District in Northwest Alaska gets more than $30 million worth of field work in 2022.
Pioneering a Path
“The upcoming field season will build on last year’s field studies, permitting, and data collection as well as incorporate robust project controls to inform project schedule and cost and develop project execution strategies like CMGC (construction manager/general contractor),” says Dana Pruhs, board chair of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA).
On January 27, AIDEA board members passed a resolution approving a field season plan and a budget for the Ambler Access Project (AAP). The $15.4 million budgeted by the state-backed corporation will be matched by private sector developer Ambler Metals under terms of the partners’ development agreement.
The joint owners of Ambler Metals, South32 Limited and Trilogy metals, have already approved their $15.4 million contribution.
“The goal is to stay on schedule and on budget for a final investment decision in 2024,” Pruhs says.
AAP is a proposed 211-mile, industrial access road to reach the Ambler Mining District in the Northwest Arctic Borough. The district is a large prospective copper-zinc mineral belt with extensive deposits of critical minerals and other elements.
AAP is modeled on a similar AIDEA-funded industrial access road project located in the Northwest Arctic Borough: the DeLong Mountain Transportation System in support of Red Dog Mine.
“The Red Dog Mine has now provided three generations of good paying jobs for families across western Alaska,” says AIDEA Executive Director Alan Weitzner. “Access to the Ambler Mining District has the potential to create four or more Red Dog-level mines.” The district is estimated to create more than 3,900 total jobs (direct, indirect, and induced) and more than $300 million in annual wages once the mines are operational, adding significant new revenues for both local and state governments.
“We are looking forward to a busy and productive 2022 field season,” says Ambler Metals CEO and President Ramzi Fawaz. “Ambler Metals will be recruiting for over 60 direct hire positions, ranging from geologists to heavy equipment operators. Additionally, there will be approximately 50 positions hired through contractors working for us. We are also pleased to announce that as part of our workforce development plans, Ambler Metals will be kicking off several vocational training programs involving participants from the NANA and Doyon regions.”
The 2022 field jobs also include surveyors, environmental scientists, tribal liaisons, and bear guards. These positions are in addition to the more than forty-two prime and subcontractor companies that will continue with logistics, geotechnical, design, and other field season tasks. To ensure reasonable and equitable contracting opportunities were available, the AAP procurement team incorporated a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program to encourage minority Alaskan owned companies to bid. Currently, MBE entities represent 30 percent of existing AAP contracts.
Trilogy Metals CEO and President Tony Giardini says, “Since 2004 to the formation of the Ambler Metals joint venture, we invested $147 million into the UKMP [Upper Kobuk Minerals Project]. Subsequently, the joint venture invested $3.5 million and $22.6 million in 2020 and 2021, respectfully. Ultimately, there has been approximately $176 million invested in the Ambler Mining District over the years.”