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Challenging the Donlin Gold Mine

Kuskokwim River, in southwest Alaska.

Kuskokwim River, in southwest Alaska. The Donlin mine's massive industrial operation will destroy thousands of acres of wetlands and streams and cause permanently elevated levels of dangerous metals in local water.

Peter Griffith / NASA

What’s at Stake

The massive industrial operation will destroy thousands of acres of wetlands and streams, create billions of tons of waste, cause permanently elevated levels of dangerous metals in local waters, require permanent water treatment, and pose an enduring threat to the communities who have subsisted in the region for millennia.


A consortium of Tribal governments from the Kuskokwim region, represented by Earthjustice, are fighting Donlin Gold, a mining project owned by Canadian-based mining giants NovaGold and Barrick Gold.

If it is constructed, the proposed Donlin Gold mine will be one of the world's largest open-pit mines.

Located 10 miles north of the village of Crooked Creek on a tributary of Alaska’s Kuskokwim River headwaters, the project will dramatically change the Yukon Kuskokwim region, threatening the health and well-being of residents, communities, and wildlife for generations.

Construction of the mine may permanently damage water, fish and game resources, and the subsistence lifestyle of the Yukon Kuskokwim River Delta. Donlin’s proposed reclamation and closure plan is of great concern to Tribal leaders, who demand a plan that protects future generations who will have to live with the consequences of the Donlin project for all time.

Many residents across the Yukon-Kuskokwim region practice a subsistence lifestyle, and see Donlin’s mining development as a major threat to their way of life.

Case ID

3756, 4126


Akiak Native Community
Chevak Traditional Council
Chuloonawick Native Village
Kasigluk Traditional Council
Kongiganak Traditional Council
Native Village of Eek
Native Village of Kwigillingok
Native Village of Nightmute
Native Village of Tununak
Organized Village of Kwethluk
Sleetmute Traditional Council
Tuluksak Tribal Council

Case Updates

June 28, 2021 | Legal Document

Notice of Appeal Challenging Donlin Mine Water Certificate Approval

The Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council (ONC) filed a Notice of Appeal in Alaska Superior Court in Anchorage, challenging Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Jason Brune’s decision to uphold a water-quality permit.

June 2, 2021 | In the News: Indian Country Today

The State of Alaska Stands by Decision on Donlin Gold Mine

Olivia Glasscock, Attorney, Alaska Office, Earthjustice: “There is no mine on Earth of this size or type that has ever succeeded in not contaminating surrounding waters, and Donlin will be no different. Earthjustice will continue to challenge this short-sighted plan, which would rob an entire region of a priceless river only to line the pockets of mine developers.”