Project History

Current Activities

BLM

  • On February 28, 2017, the BLM filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register stating its decision to prepare an EIS for the proposed Ambler Access industrial road, and extended the completion dates of the Draft EIS and Final EIS to March 29, 2019 and December 30, 2019, respectively.
  • The BLM issued an extension on the 90-day public comment period to January 31, 2018.
  • AIDEA and the BLM agreed on a Scope of Work for a Third-Party Contractor.
  • AIDEA issued a Third-Party Contract to HDR on September 15, 2017 to assist the BLM in preparing an EIS, as provided for in the October 2015 Office of Management and Budget Memorandum.
  • Ambler Road Environmental Impact Statement-Scoping Summary Report
  • Ambler SSR Appendix A
  • The Draft EEA expected completion in July 2019

 

NPS

 

  • The NPS on February 28, 2017 filed a NOI in the Federal Register for an extension of time regarding ANILCA Sec. 201(4) [16 U.S.C. 410hh(4)] that requires the preparation of an environmental and economic analysis (EEA) that by statute will be prepared in lieu of an environmental impact statement for the portion of the proposed industrial road that would go across the Western (Kobuk River) unit of Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. Under ANILCA, the FHWA is working with the NPS on this portion of the process.
  • GAAR Public Comment Summary Report
  • The Draft EEA is expected to be available for public review in mid-July 2019

The History of Ambler

 

The Ambler Mining District has extensive mineral resources, including copper, silver, gold, lead and zinc. It has been characterized as one of the largest undeveloped copper-zinc mineral belts in the world. The area has been explored for decades, but development of the mineral resources has been limited due to a lack of transportation infrastructure. Once complete, the Ambler Access project will provide surface transportation access to the Ambler Mining District and enable further exploration and development of the area’s resources, providing for economic development.

In 2009, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) began evaluating multiple road and railroad routes that could provide access to the District. Access to the District was assessed for both east and west alignments to the District. As a result of these studies a potential corridor was identified that would connect the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District traversing the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. In 2013, the project was transferred from DOT&PF to AIDEA.

AIDEA undertook the project with the goal of forming a Public-Private Partnership to finance, construct, operate and maintain the facility. The project design is modeled on AIDEA’s successful DeLong Mountain Transportation System (DMTS), which includes an industrial access road from the Red Dog Mine to the DMTS port. AIDEA worked with private industry to develop the DMTS industrial access road and the costs of road construction were paid back through tolls on road use.

Access to the Ambler Mining District through the route proposed is established in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

What is ANILCA?

ANILCA stands for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act that was passed by Congress in 1980 to resolve outstanding federal land claims. It impacted land uses and ownership rights between the federal government, the State of Alaska, and private landowners. The Act’s purposes are two-fold: to provide for “sufficient protection for the national interest in scenic, natural, cultural and environmental values on public lands in Alaska” while simultaneously providing “an adequate opportunity to satisfy the economic and social needs of the State of Alaska and its people.” The U.S. Supreme Court recently observed that “ANILCA … recognizes that Alaska is different – from its ‘unrivaled scenic and geologic values,’ to the ‘unique’ situation of its ‘rural residents dependent on subsistence uses,’ to ‘the need for development and use of Arctic resources with appropriate recognition and consideration given to the unique nature of the Arctic environment.” Sturgeon v. Frost, --U.S.--, 136 S.Ct. 1061, 1070, 194 L.Ed.2d 108 (2016).
sturgeon-vs-frost
 

ANILCA established 10 new federal parks, preserves, and monuments throughout Alaska while guaranteeing certain rights of access for subsistence, hunting, fishing, recreational and other economic and social purposes, including ensuring access to and from resource development areas within the State. In balancing these interests, Congress recognized the mineral potential of and the specific need for access to the Ambler Mining District to ensure the economic and social needs of the people of Alaska are met. Section 201(4) of ANILCA therefore provides a specific guarantee of access to the Ambler Mining District for these purposes. The AMDIAP application was filed pursuant to ANILCA § 201(4).

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