Permits issued for True North gold mine project

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Permits have been issued for the True North gold mine project, clearing the way to start construction of the project 30 miles north of Fairbanks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits issued Wednesday go into effect immediately.

The permits were the last government approval that Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc. needed.

''We're very pleased for the company and for the community,'' Tom Irwin, general manager of Fairbanks Gold Mining, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The first True North ore should be available to process by the end of March, according to a statement from the Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corp., parent company of Fairbanks Gold. True North will be in full production by the end of June, the statement said.

Fairbanks Gold wants to mine 180,000 ounces of gold a year over three years at True North. The mine will cost $25 million to construct and will employ 110 people. Fairbanks Gold plans to build a $1 million underpass of the Steese Highway to be used by ore trucks and mine employees.

Don Kohler, the Corps' chief of the North Section Regulatory Branch, said the Corps of Engineers issued the permits with five conditions:

-- Fairbanks Gold must use appropriate silt fences or hay bales in road con-struction to control erosion and runoff.

-- All drainage or diversion ditches that are not filled with large rocks must be stabilized and seeded within two years.

-- The section of the new access road that falls near the Cleary Summit and Skiland subdivision must be paved or chip-sealed for dust control.

-- The road sub-grade in areas of thaw or permafrost must be replaced to the depth of four feet with coarse, 2-inch or larger rock and a fabric to insulate the road.

-- Silt fences must be used in areas in thawed permafrost areas to minimize runoff.

Opponents of the mine could not be reached late Wednesday. In the past, True North area residents, the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and Neighbor-hood Mine Watch have objected to the project. They have said operations will disrupt businesses and interfere with daily living since 60-ton ore trucks will pass by four minutes apart, 24 hours a day, and lights will be in use.

Those issues are addressed in the state's permits, said Bob Loeffler, director of the Department of Natural Resources' Division of Mining, Land and Water.

The truck and mine noise levels are to be kept in check and will be monitored by a third party, Loeffler said.

A person indoors should only hear noise equal to a whisper or the hum of a quiet refrigerator, he said. Maximum outdoor noise would be equal to typical conversational levels or a car driving by at 35 to 40 miles an hour at a distance of 200 feet, he said.

Opponents met earlier this week to discuss options that may include appealing to Superior Court. Under state law they have until Feb. 19 to appeal.

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