State regulators give OK to Fairbanks gold mine

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Department of Natural Resources issued permits Friday for Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc. to begin constructing its True North mine about 30 miles north of Fairbanks.

Commissioner Pat Pourchot denied six requests to reconsider the action. None of the requests had new information that warranted a change, Pourchot said in a letter explaining his decision.

Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc. officials met the news with cautious optimism as they wait for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits.

''You might hear a 'whoopee' when construction starts,'' said Rick Baker, Fairbanks Gold operations manager.

The company had expected the federal permits to be issued the same time as the state's, said Baker. The company had planned to start construction on the road portion of the project as early as Saturday.

Corps of Engineers officials could not be reached late Friday for comment. However, Bob Loeffler, DNR director of the Division of Mining, Wand and Water, said the Corps permits may be issued next week.

Fairbanks Gold plans to mine 180,000 ounces of gold a year for three years from the True North mine. It will employ 110 people and cost about $25 million to construct. The company estimates the cost of labor, power and support to be $14 million a year.

Residents have complained that the noise and lights from ore trucks would affect several businesses and disturb home life.

The state concedes noise and lights will be elevated, but they will not be intrusive because of the restrictions the state placed on the permits, said Loeffler.

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