ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The federal government has released preliminary studies of a proposed industrial road through northern Alaska to a region rich in minerals, a report said.
The Bureau of Land Management made public draft studies last Friday that are a prerequisite to construction of the 200-mile (322-kilometer) road, The Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.
The bureau is analyzing an Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority application for a 50-year right of way. Route alternatives proposed by the state agency would cost more than $500 million, while construction over four years would support more than 2,700 jobs directly, the bureau said.
The two-lane road would encourage mineral extraction in the Ambler Mining District that the authority calls one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-zinc belts.
Operations at four potential mining sites could support thousands of jobs and add about $1.1 billion in state revenues from taxes and royalties, the development and export agency said.
The Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group is one of the groups opposing the proposal, voicing concerns in 2018 that the road could hurt herd and food security.
The environmental law firm Trustees for Alaska called the project a “state-funded gravel private driveway” for mining interests.
The Wilderness Society said more than $20 million has been spent on the corridor that it said would cross 2,900 streams and 11 major rivers.
The potential value of mineral development in the region cannot yet be known by the state, said Wilderness Society engineer Lois Epstein.
“They are definitely speculating with their highest hope for revenue,” Epstein said. “Given our financial situation, industry itself should pay for the road.”
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com
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