From Exploration to Closure of a Large-Scale Mine: Environmental and health impacts of the proposed Donlin Gold Mine on the watershed, communities and people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region

On Tuesday, December 7 from 12:00 – 1:00 PM, CHE-Alaska hosted a lunch-and-learn webinar entitled “From Exploration to Closure of a Large-Scale Mine: Environmental and health impacts of the proposed Donlin Gold Mine on the watershed, communities and people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region”.  Large-scale mining in the Y-K Region will impact the health of communities, ecosystems, and wildlife for generations to come. The webinar was a presentation of potential short- and long-term impacts of development comparing to similarly sized projects around the globe and focusing in on regional considerations unique to the Y-K region and proposed Donlin Gold Mine. We’ll be hearing from Dr. David Chambers, founder and president of the Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2) and Mary Herrera-Matthias, Environmental Program Director for the Orutsararmuit Native Council (ONC). We’re very grateful for their willingness to share their expertise and insight on this important issue.

Challenging the Donlin Gold Mine – Earth Justice – https://earthjustice.org/cases/2021/challenging-the-donlin-mine and https://earthjustice.org/features/donlin-gold-mine-alaska-native-tribes-yukon-kuskokwim

The Impact of Mining in the Kuskokwim – a webinar series organized by the Native Village of Georgetown. Episode 1 will be with Earthjustice on December 8, 2021, followed by speakers from Orutsararmuit Native Council on January 12, and lastly speakers from Donlin Gold on January 26 – More information and registration can be found at https://www.georgetowntcenvr.com/miningwebinar

Donlin Gold Project Final Environmental Impact Statement – Army Corp of Engineers – https://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/mining/large-mines/donlin/pdf/dgfeis.pdf – Map of mine site showing elements during construction, operations, and closure on page 2-154 (Figure 2.3-39)

Donlin Gold Project – Ground Truth Trekking report with background information (last updated in 2015) – http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Issues/MetalsMining/Donlin-Creek-gold-mine-prospect.html

A list of tribes in opposition to the proposed Donlin Mine can be found here – https://nodonlingold.org/

Mercury from Gold and Silver Mining: A Chemical Time Bomb?https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-642-58793-1

Mercury pollution in vegetables, grains and soils from areas surrounding coal-fired power plants (published May, 2017) – https://www.nature.com/articles/srep46545

Featured speakers

David M. Chambers, Ph.D., P. Geop. is the founder and president of the Center for Science in Public Participation, a non-profit corporation formed to provide technical assistance on mining and water quality to public interest groups and tribal governments. Dr. Chambers has 45 years of experience in mineral exploration and development – 15 years of technical and management experience in the mineral exploration industry, and for the past 30 years he has served as an advisor on the environmental effects of mining projects both nationally and internationally.  He has Professional Engineering Degree in physics from the Colorado School of Mines, a Master of Science Degree in geophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and is a registered professional geophysicist in California (# GP 972).  Dr. Chambers received his Ph.D. in environmental planning at Berkeley.  His recent research focuses on tailings dam failures, and the intersection of science and technology with public policy and natural resource management; financial assurance for mine closure and post-closure; and, the water impacts of mining.

Mary C Herrera Matthias, is an Alaskan Native; Yupik descendant on her mother’s side, born and raised in Bethel, Alaska. While growing up she was always drawn to the outdoor environments, exploring plants, insects, animals, fish, and decided that she could never move away from her homeland, where the blueberries bloom and where the salmon run near and in the Kuskokwim River. Mary is a daughter, a mother, a wife, a sister, an aunty, a subsistence gatherer, a hunter, a stewardess of the lands and waterways and an environmental advocate.
In her working career, Mary has served as an administrative Environmental Program Director, serving 11 years building capacity with EPA’s Indian General Assistance Program (IGAP). She also served as ONC’s Natural Resources Director for a couple of years during which time she became more involved in fighting for the protection of her cultural and traditional subsistence lifestyle.

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