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At Donlin Gold’s current development stage, the site’s existing potential for environmental impacts is based on a site camp of generally fewer than 100 employees and contractors, as was the case in 2020, at peak occupancy. Donlin Gold does not generate operational process waste or wastewater, produce tailings nor waste rock, or use any cyanide. All runoff from field activities, including drill sites, is managed to protect water quality under state permit requirements. All sanitary wastewater from the camp is treated prior to disposal. Therefore, current activities pose very
low risk to the environment.
Consistent with our permit requirements and the corporate
policies of NOVAGOLD and Donlin Gold, a very high level of environmental performance has been maintained at the project site in the past – and this continued throughout 2020. Detailed operating and monitoring plans and policies have been established for and implemented at the Donlin Gold project site that address safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater systems; stormwater management; spill prevention and control; fuel, oil, and hazardous materials management; wetlands protection; wildlife interactions; and many others. When the project site was occupied in 2020, the environmental team conducted daily inspections of all ongoing site activities as well as monitoring for potential releases to land and water. These areas include water and wastewater management, air quality, hazardous and other solid waste management, fuel storage and use (and associated spill risk), and the protection of biological resources around the site. Donlin Gold and its contractors have never been cited for any non-compliance with environmental regulations, standards, or permit requirements. All hazardous waste is strictly managed according to state and federal regulations. In 2020, Donlin Gold had no spills to water and no fuel or oil spills greater than 10 gallons (the threshold for reporting to government agencies). Per state permit requirements, Donlin Gold also stabilized and reclaimed all of the 2020 drill sites and associated drill access roads after work was completed in these areas.
In 2020, Donlin Gold continued studies to monitor and document environmental conditions in the project area. These included fish and wildlife studies in the Middle Kuskokwim
River, such as the multi-year program to characterize rainbow smelt spawning. In this effort, Donlin Gold partnered with local residents to continue to update the species behavior under current conditions and how it is used locally as an important subsistence resource. Closer to the project site, Donlin Gold advanced fish habitat restoration plans for areas of the Crooked Creek watershed previously affected by historical placer mining. With construction planned to start in 2021, these projects will restore and reconnect
stream and pond habitats that will support Coho salmon and resident fish populations in the drainage. Finally, in 2020, Donlin Gold also conducted extensive water quality monitoring and aquatic resource surveys throughout the Crooked Creek watershed.
Due to Donlin Gold’s remote location, on-site diesel-fired power generation and heaters are used to support current project site activities. In 2020, Donlin Gold’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled 1,500 metric tonnes of CO2. As the mine project moves forward – and as practicable – the use of more renewable energy sources such as wind or solar will be evaluated.
Donlin Gold used approximately 184,000 gallons of pumped ground water to support camp operations during 2020. Some additional surface water was temporarily used for drilling operations, but this water was quickly and safely returned to area streams. As previously noted, the project site is located in a remote part of western Alaska where there are few other water users
and water scarcity has not been a concern. In addition, all water withdrawals and uses are authorized by the State of Alaska. This process provides for protection of other local water uses, including ensuring no adverse impacts to streams and aquatic life use.
At a broader level, hazardous waste management is a major community concern in the Y-K region because there are no
safe, authorized sites in the region for long-term management
and disposal. In the fall of 2020, Donlin Gold collaborated with
28 community partners, including regional and village tribal governments and Y-K region businesses, on the Donlin Gold Backhaul Hazardous Waste Removal Partnership to collect and remove approximately 45,000 pounds of household hazardous materials – such as fluorescent tubes, lead acid batteries, and electronic waste – for proper disposal. Donlin Gold was the primary funder of this endeavor, which built upon two previous disposal events. In 2019, nearly 100,000 pounds of hazardous and electronic waste was removed from 14 villages and Bethel on the Kuskokwim River and in 2018, the initial Green Star® Waste Backhaul Project removed close to 40,000 pounds of hazardous waste and materials from six Middle Kuskokwim villages. Donlin Gold is also working with TKC, the State of Alaska, and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to upgrade, as well as improve, health and safety standards of water and sewer services in Middle Kuskokwim
area communities.
Applicable Corporate Policies, including Environmental Policy and Social License and Sustainable Development, can be found at

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