- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaskans who live near the route of a proposed 200-mile road to the Ambler Mining District strongly criticized its effects on traditional hunting grounds in two days of meetings in Fairbanks.

Residents testified Wednesday in the second day of hearings hosted by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/1z8AAnj ).

The proposed road would begin on the Dalton Highway and extend west to northwest Alaska. Mining representatives said it would open a door to well-paid jobs. Village residents said employment opportunities would come at too high a cost.

“We don’t want the road to open because we’re going to lose everything,” said Ida Ross, a Kobuk resident. “We’re losing our Native way anyway, but it’s going to be even worse with the road.”

The road and increased access pose a serious risk to a lifestyle that many people have chosen to live, said John Gaedecke, who owns a fly-in lodge in the Brooks Range.

Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, CEO of NovaCopper Inc., said proposed mines with road access will create hundreds of jobs.

“NovaCopper is committed to local hire and to workforce development similar to what you see at Red Dog and Fort Knox.” he said. “Potential mine development would allow high-quality jobs in the region for all people and all Alaskans. Even today as an exploration effort, we already have over 55 percent local hire.”

P.J. Simon, second chief of Allakaket Tribal Council, said he had not seen anything that promises jobs. Herbie Vent of Fairbanks said it sounded like jobs promised before construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline.

“When the pipeline was built, we were promised all kinds of money and jobs,” he said. “But when the billionaires of oil, copper and gold are through their deals, they don’t need you anymore. I don’t have anything against it, but once you build a road you’ll have settlers all along the road to Ambler.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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