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Kinross to give Manh Choh mine progress report, seek public input

Contango ORE
An aerial view of the base of operations for the Peak Gold project, renamed the Manh Choh project by Kinross earlier this year after the Toronto-based company paid US$93.7 million for a 70 percent interest in the project in September 2020. The previous owner, Houston-based Contango ORE, used the base of operations largely to store its inventory of core samples the company had collected from around the mine site. Contango still owns 30 percent of the joint-venture project.

Online meetings to focus on five communities located along 250-mile route from Tetlin mine to Fort Knox mill

Kinross officials say they’ll conduct five virtual meetings over the next eight days to give a progress report on the development of the Manh Choh mine in Tetlin and to get feedback from the people there and along the route that the company’s plans to haul the ore from the mine to the Kinross mill near Fox.

Contango ORE
Kinross proposes to haul truckloads of ore extracted from the Manh Choh mine near Tetlin to its Fort Knox mill north of Fairbanks. This map by Manh Choh joint venture partner Contango ORE also shows other mining prospects and operations in the area.

“We have new information to share regarding permitting and reclamation plans,” says Kinross spokesperson Anna Atchison. She says company officials also wants to talk about next year’s construction season. And, jobs.

“We have new information to share regarding what we anticipate to be just about 400 jobs that’s be created with Manh Choh,” she said in an interview Monday.

Atchison says that part of the presentation should be of particular interest to people who live in communities closest to the mine, including Tanacross and Northway. Those are the two locales that today’s two virtual meetings will focus on. The remaining meetings will include other topics of interest or concern.

“We know that different communities have different interests,” she said. “So, communities like Tanacross, and Northway and of course Tok, and Delta, they have shown a lot of interest in business development and jobs.”

Of course, every community is interested in jobs and economic development, and so all the online meetings are open to anyone. But residents of a couple of other communities along the highway corridor between the mine and mill have expressed concern about an additional issue: that is, the volume of trucks with which Kinross in planning to haul the ore from Tetlin.

Contango ORE
Remote drilling operations like this showed the Manh Choh's promising potential. Kinross officials plan to talk about the company's work on permitting and reclamation plans during the series of community meetings that begin today.

“Communities like Delta and Salcha as well – we think in addition to those (topics) they’ll want to talk more about trucking,” Atchison said.

Two virtual meetings mainly oriented for residents of Delta Junction and the Salcha-Harding Lake area will be held Thursday. The Tok meeting is scheduled for next Thursday, October 21st. Atchison says during those meetings, Kinross officials will talk about how they’ll address concerns over the company’s plans to run up to four truckloads per hour from the mine, and up to four trucks every hour coming back empty from the mill – every day, beginning when the Manh Choh starts production in 2024.

Atchison says Kinross has invited a couple of representatives from the state Department of Transportation to talk about that issue.

“I believe they’re going to be speaking to the upcoming construction projects,” she said, “ … and the new passing lanes planned for the Tetlin-to-Fort-Knox corridor.”

Transportation Department spokesperson Caitlin Frye says the two DOT officials will talk about one project that scheduled to be built about five miles south of Birch Lake.

“So, we do have a project that is funded and currently being designed for some passing lanes on the Richardson Highway, between miles 299 and 304,” she said in a recent interview. “And we expect at this point that that project could be in construction in 2024.”

Frye says DOT and Kinross have been conferring about the company’s trucking plans for a few months now. And she says the agency is prepared to respond to road-maintenance problems that are likely to occur with all those heavily loaded trucks pounding the pavement.

“If, for instance, we were to start seeing increased damage in a particular area,” she said, “we would be able to move around our resources and deal with the areas that are the highest priority as quickly as possible.”

Atchison says Kinross will schedule another meeting in the near future for Fairbanks and Fox.

Editor’s note: Information on how to log-in or call in to the online meetings is available on the Kinross Fort Knox Facebook page. Residents who prefer to participate by telephone may call toll-free (888) 788-0099.
Correction: This story has been revised to correct the toll-free number to call to participate in the meeting. It's (888) 788-0099.

Tim Ellis has been working as a KUAC reporter/producer since 2010. He has more than 30 years experience in broadcast, print and online journalism.