NCHORAGE, ALASKA — Alaska’s state investment corporation has approved a $1 million survey plan that will help fund work on a road to reach a mining project.
The board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority voted to approve spending up to $500,000 this year for survey work on the so-called Ambler Access Project, The Anchorage Daily News reported.
The funds will be matched by Ambler Metals LLC, which envisions digging mines in the area served by the 340-kilometre road in the Brooks Range mountains.
The funds will pay for aerial surveys along a portion of the road’s planned route in northern Alaska, authority officials said.
The agency placed $35 million in its Arctic Infrastructure Development Fund earlier this year. The survey work will use funds from that account and the Ambler Metals contribution.
Officials at the development and export authority, a public corporation owned by the state, said they envision the mining firm will extend the funding to the rest of the road’s pre-development work.
The authority and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spent about $26.2 million on the road through late 2019. The authority’s executive director said at the time that another $25 million to $50 million was needed before the start of construction.
Construction of the two-lane access road has been estimated at $350 million. The authority expects to sell bonds to cover the costs and recover the investment by charging tolls to mining companies that use the road.
The agreement approved allows Ambler Metals to credit its current spending against eventual tolls. The company cannot seek reimbursement from the state if the road is not built, officials said.
Siikauraq Martha Whiting, planning director for the Northwest Arctic Borough, said the borough has issued a resolution backing the road but said the action might be premature because federal officials have not issued final permits.
Doyon Ltd., the regional Native corporation for Interior Alaska, said the authority has not received permission from all landowners along the road route, including Doyon.