Friday, June 28, 2024

Biden administration blocks Ambler road in Alaska

 Ambler road decision now expected by end of 2024 

The Biden administration on Friday blocked the construction of the proposed 211-mile Ambler road used for accessing minerals in Alaska.

The Interior Department has announced plans to retain protections for 28 million acres of land scattered across the state that the Trump administration had sought to open for mining and oil and gas drilling. These lands include unique habitats for three major caribou herds, migratory birds, as well as the Pacific salmon.

“Today, my administration stopped a 211-mile road from carving up a pristine area that Alaska Native communities rely on, in addition to steps we’re taking to maintain protections on 28 million acres in Alaska from mining and drilling. These natural wonders demand our protection,” US President Joe Biden said on X.

The Ambler road would provide access to untouched deposits of copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold in northwestern Alaska. The two-lane, all-season gravel road would have run through the Brooks Range foothills and the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, crossing 11 rivers and thousands of streams before it reached the site of a future mine.

Ambler Metals' suspended access road permits in legal limbo
The route of the proposed Ambler Access Project in Alaska. (Credit: Trilogy Metals.)

The Trump administration approved the project permit in 2020. After Biden’s election, the Interior Department ordered a new analysis, citing inadequate environmental impact studies by the previous administration. In April, the department recommended against any proposed version of the road.

The decision is another setback for Ambler Metals, formed in 2019 by Trilogy Metals (TSX, NYSE: TMQ) and South32 (ASX, LON, JSE: S32), to explore the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP) in Alaska’s Ambler mining district.

The UKMP projects, consisting of the Arctic and earlier-stage Bornite copper assets, have a combined resource of 8 billion pounds of copper, 3 billion pounds of zinc and 1 million ounces of gold equivalent.

The proposed mine is expected to produce more than 159 million pounds of copper, 199 million pounds of zinc, 33 million pounds of lead, 30,600 ounces of gold and 3.3 million ounces of silver over a 12-year mine life.

The Interior Department, however, argues that the road would disrupt habitats, pollute salmon spawning grounds, and threaten the hunting and fishing traditions of over 30 Alaska Native communities.

MINING.COM requested a comment from Ambler Metals about the Interior Department’s decision, but the company did not respond by press time.

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