Record of Decision Issued for the Ambler Access Road
Richard Pribyl, PE, conducts fieldwork for the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Project in 2011.
The US Bureau of Land Management signed a Record of Decision for the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access project (AMDIAP) that approves the development of the northern, or “A” route, a 211-mile gravel private access road in the southern Brooks Range foothills that will provide industrial access to the Ambler mining district.
The Section 404 permit for the project, governed by the Clean Water Act, is expected to be issued soon by the US Army Corps of Engineers. According to Triology Metals, “The issuance of the CWA Section 404 will establish a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. This is the key federal permit required for the development of the AMDIAP.”
South32 and Triology Metals are developing the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects in the Ambler Mining District, which has extensive mineral resources including copper, silver, gold, lead, and zinc and has been described as one of the “largest undeveloped copper-zinc mineral belts in the world,” and this access road is critical component for the development of those projects.
President and CEO Tony Giardini of Trilogy Metals said, “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the BLM and the USACE for overseeing and managing the long approval process for the Ambler Access Road. The formal permitting of the AMDIAP is a significant event for the Company and for all Alaskans.”
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) has also been working to secure this vital access to the Ambler Mining District.
Field work in the Ambler Mining District.
“Today’s announcement comes after years of rigorous study, more than a hundred public meetings, and dedicated support from Alaskans who believe in responsible economic development projects,” said AIDEA Board Chairman Dana Pruhs. “This long-sought development of the road and mining district represents tremendous potential for economic growth, diversification, and job opportunities for Alaskans, along with revenue expected to the State and local governments for decades.”
AIDEA stated in a release about the Record of Decision that, with the corridor approved, the project team can now undertake negotiations with landholders in earnest. “Additional studies, ground truthing, and design will also be done to more accurately estimate the cost of road construction and operation.”
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“Getting a large, remote project such as Ambler through the Environmental Impact Statement process is a herculean task,” said AIDEA Chief Infrastructure Development Officer Mark Davis. “It couldn’t have been done without the wisdom of Alaska’s 1980s Congressional delegation, support of past and present delegations, legislators and administrations, and thoughtful dialogue with Alaskans who assist us in critically analyzing every decision.”
According to a release from Triology Metals, “On June 24, 2020, the Board of Directors of AIDEA approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Ambler Metals which specifies how the parties will jointly establish a plan regarding the permitting, feasibility, engineering and design, construction and operation, financing and closure of the AMDIAP. Ambler Metals has committed to contribute up to $35 million to match AIDEA’s contribution of $35 million for these activities.
“AIDEA authorized spending up to $500,000 from the funds currently in the Arctic Infrastructure Development Fund for 2020 predevelopment work on the AMDIAP. These funds will be matched by another $500,000 by Ambler Metals and will be used to further advance the project.”
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