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Neighbors Organize Against New Mining Disruption

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Robyne
/
KUAC

A group of residents from neighborhoods near gold mining prospects met Wednesday night to organize opposition to a land lease near their homes. Some residents of Goldstream Valley say a plan by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to lease land on Ester Dome to an Australian mining company would impact their way of life.

The meeting was outdoors in a pavilion next to a playground. People there could see the smoky outline of Ester Dome, where the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, or AMHTA, is proposing to lease to Felix Gold Alaska several parcels. Included in the lease plan are more pieces near Murphy Dome Road, and that area totals 4,157 acres. There are also 5,000 acres on Cleary Summit and Pedro Dome and 991 acres north of Fox along the Elliott Highway.

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Credit Courtesy of Millrock Resources, Inc.
Tintina Gold Province. Major gold deposits are shown as gold-filled circles. Millrock / Felix Gold projects are shown as yellow stars.

In total more than 10,206 acres of land.

Some at the meeting were not opposed to mining, but just didn’t want it in their back yard. Jeff Fay commented on the successful big mines in the Interior, and mentioned Pogo gold mine near Delta Junction and True North gold mine north of Fairbanks.

There's been mining in Fairbanks since the beginning of Fairbanks. Fairbanks was built on mining in the early days, but there haven't been big mines right next to residential areas.

Fay lives in Fox and shares a property line with one of the parcels that will be leased.

Well, I don't want mining 50 feet from my house. That's one of my problems with this is that they've chosen lands -- I think my house may be the closest to their line -- but they've chosen lands that are right next to residential properties. Right next to residential property.

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Credit Courtesy of Millrock Resources, Inc.
Millrock / Felix Gold claims of the Fairbanks Gold District are shown in blue. Major producing or past-producing mines are indicated by crossed picks (yellow = lode deposit, pink = placer deposit). Paved highways (black/white dashes), major gravel roads (red dashes), Alaska pipeline (dark grey line), and major faults (fine black lines) are also shown. Gold production numbers are sourced from the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

Felix Gold is the Alaska subsidiary of Felix Gold Ltd. of Australia. It was registered as an Alaska Corporation last December. The company has permits to drill on Ester Dome and gather soil samples at what’s called the Treasure Creek project near Murphy Dome.

Tyler Selden asked people at the meeting to form a committee to monitor each step toward a new gold mine on the leased parcels.

There is a very real chance that this could eventually result in something similar to the huge open pit mine at Fort Knox being built into Ester Dome.

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority is a state corporation, with a mission to fund mental health programs. It primarily does that by leasing or selling off pieces of its 1994 allotment of a million acres of land. Then it grants the money to mental health services organizations.

Many at the meeting said they had no argument with the Trust doing its job to address mental health. But they would rather the Trust lease some of its other parcels – away from so many people. Organizers asked people to write and call the Trust with their concerns.

Selden cited the proximity of the ore mill at the Fort Knox mine north of Fox, where ore from any prospects on Ester Dome or Murphy Dome is likely to go.

Goldstream Road's going to be turned into a gold mine ore corridor. Truckload after truckload, after truckload all day long around the clock, uh, you know, heavy machinery trucks going down our road.

There is a long history of mining in the area; just the name Goldstream Valley evokes that past. Many at the meeting, like Heather McBride, said the lease of the land weighs the values of the minerals against their homes.

We don't think it's a good idea. We don't disagree with mining, but we think it's too close to home and we'd like to know what's going on.

Selden said Felix Gold Alaska would speed up development if their prospecting finds minerals on the parcels it is leasing.

They're after Cretaceous-era gold vein deposits that lie deep within the mountain. That means they have to go deep to get them. They will destroy Ester Dome in the process to get at that dinosaur age gold. It's going to happen there. If they find it, that mountain is gone.

Others at the meeting said they live in the area for the rural values. They mentioned open space and access to trails, trapping, hunting and clean air. Sharon Crout and Bree Herdeman are worried about the potential impact.

The pollution of the groundwater and in the air and the destruction of Ester Dome basically. The road is destroyed every spring anyway, and I can't imagine industrial traffic going day and night.

Just the safety and the lifestyle out here. And it appealed to us to be out here since 1991. And now they're bringing this mine in. It's, it's very scary.

Organizers asked anyone interested in forming a committee to email savegoldstream@gmail.com.