ANCHORAGE - If final permits are cleared for the project, construction could begin in December on the $250 million Pogo gold mine development near Delta.
The boards of Teck Cominco Ltd. and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., which own Pogo, are expected to make a final decision to go ahead with the project in September, according to Karl Hanneman, Alaska regional manager for Teck-Pogo Inc., which is managing development of the mine.
In June, the two companies will be asked to approve the start of detailed engineering for the underground mine, Hanneman told the Alaska Support Industry Alliance in Anchorage earlier this month.
Pogo will be a major new construction project if it proceeds, requiring a $250 million capital investment and employing up to 500 workers through 2004 and 2005.
During production, the mine will employ about 300, Hanneman said.
Pogo has about 5.5 million ounces of identified gold resources. It would produce about 400,000 ounces of gold per year beginning in late 2005. Production can be sustained for about 10 years based on the currently-identified gold resource, but once mining begins additional exploration will be done, Hanneman said.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Pogo development was released in mid-March. Public hearings are scheduled on the impact statement, with the public comment period set to close in mid-May.
Assuming no unexpected developments in the permitting process, state permits could be issued by the end of the year.
Hanneman said the first activity would be building a winter trail next winter from the Richardson Highway up the Goodpaster River to the mine site, 38 miles northeast of Delta.
Construction of an all-year road would begin next spring, as soon as the winter road is completed and equipment is moved to the mine. The all-year road would follow a different route near Shaw Creek.
Construction will start from both ends of the all-year road, from the Richardson Highway and the mine site, Hanneman said. A 250-person construction camp will also be built in early 2004, replacing a 50-person camp currently at the mine.
Building of surface facilities for the mine would begin about the same time. This work will include the mill building, a 350-person camp and a 3,000-foot airstrip to replace the current 1,500-foot strip.
A 50-mile electrical transmission line will also be built to the mine along the same route as the road. The power line will link with existing Golden Valley Electric Association transmission lines.
The mine will require about 10 Megawatts of power yearly, Hanneman said.