Headlamp – Doing things right at the Donlin Gold Mine.

Doing things right at the Donlin Gold Mine. State regulators are gathering in Bethel tonight to discuss water and waste management at the Donlin Gold Mine. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has tentatively decided to issue two permits to Donlin Gold. One authorizes the mine to discharge its wastewater into Crooked Creek, provided that Donlin treats it first. The other allows Donlin to dispose of other waste, including contaminants like cyanide. The agency wants to hear from the public before making any final decisions. At tonight’s meeting, DEC representatives will explain the permits to the public and answer any questions, then listen to residents’ comments and concerns. The meeting begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Cultural Center. This is the second of three meetings that the DEC is holding on Donlin Gold’s water and waste management permits. They held the first in Aniak last week and will hold a final discussion in Anchorage this Friday.

Tightening the belt – industry wide. The world’s largest energy companies plan to significantly widen a two-year effort to standardize the kit they use to pump oil and gas, hoping they can deliver significant cost savings, said people familiar with the matter. The discussions, scheduled on Wednesday for a closed-door meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, are the latest sign companies are seeking to tighten their belts permanently even as oil prices recover. Bespoke equipment designed on a project-by-project basis was common during the decade-long boom in crude prices, but looks less affordable after the industry’s worst downturn in a generation. “Standardization could save the oil and gas industry hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” Bob Dudley, the chief executive officer of BP Plc, said in an interview in Davos.

Walker seeks “additional options” to replace Westlake. Would you accept a job that requires you to move, take a massive pay cut and join an institution detested by many? And to reapply for the position in less than a year, at which point any salacious details of your personal life could be exposed to the public? Those are the questions facing the potential replacements for Dean Westlake, the Democratic former representative from the Northwest Alaska village of Kiana who resigned last month amid allegations of unwanted sexual advances. The Alaska Democratic Party two weeks ago sent Gov. Bill Walker three names to choose from: Leanna Mack, an aide to the mayor of the North Slope Borough, as well as two Kotzebue City Council members, Sandy Shroyer-Beaver and Eugene Smith. But Walker hasn’t picked one of them to fill Westlake’s seat — representing House District 40 in northern Alaska — and in a phone interview Monday, he suggested that he’s unlikely to. “I think that it makes sense to have some additional options at this point,” Walker said.

One step closer to construction? A liquefied natural gas project in Alaska could be operating by 2024 because of the quick pace of meeting regulatory requirements, the developer said. An LNG project in the design phase in Alaska would connect a natural gas reservoir in Prudhoe Bay through 800 miles of pipe to a liquefaction plant on the southcentral Alaskan coast. The Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the project’s developer, said it submitted its responses to the 801 questions posed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in quick order. The developer said questions ranged from the impact on fish to the impact on the aboriginal communities in Alaska. Keith Meyer, the president of the development company, said the pace of turnaround to FERC put the project one step closer to construction. The response to FERC, on top of some commercial agreements, “is a clear signal to the markets that Alaska LNG is on track to deliver energy stability at competitive prices by 2024 or 2025,” he said in a statement.

Long way to go before construction? A Chinese bank official involved in talks with Alaska over the $43 billion natural gas line project said on Tuesday the Bank of China is taking steps toward arranging a group of lenders to cover the project’s huge financing costs. But Raymond Qiao, managing director of the Bank of China’s New York branch, cautioned that there is still a long way to go before Chinese entities such as his decide to invest in the project. He said the project will probably be built, citing “advantages” that include Alaska’s proximity and giant gas resources and growing demand in China for the resource. Qiao said China is very interested in the project that would deliver North Slope natural gas to Asian markets. The gas would be shipped down an 800-mile pipeline and super-chilled into a liquid for ocean-going export out of Nikiski.

Society is built around mining. The Alaska Miners Association chapter chair Graham Neale also is director of the University of Alaska Southeast’s Center for Mine Training in Juneau. Neale said mining is an important industry. “You look around this room, and pretty much everything that’s in this room has either come out of the ground or on top of the ground. And everything that we’re eating has come from agriculture,” he said. “Everything that’s made out of wood came from the timber industry which is obviously a huge economic driver in this region during the ‘70s and ‘80s. And everything else comes out of the ground. And so that’s why we mine. We’ve built ourselves a society around it, and we’ve come to depend on these things in our natural life.” Casey Bain works at the Center for Mine Training coordinating programs and recruiting new students. “My mission is to get out there and get high school seniors interested and involved in mining,” Bain said. “To know these jobs are here, and to know what kind of training opportunities they need to become a successful employee in the industry.”

First Reads:

Big Oil Plans Tenfold Expansion of Cost-Cut Collaboration
Bloomberg Markets, Javier Blas, January 23, 2018

Alaska Democrats are having trouble finding someone to replace former Rep. Westlake. Here’s why.
Anchorage Daily News, Nathaniel Hertz, January 24, 2018

Alaska’s LNG project inching toward reality
UPI, Daniel J. Graeber, January 23, 2018

China is ‘serious’ about Alaska gas line, Bank of China official says
Anchorage Daily News, Alex DeMarban, January 23, 2018

University of Alaska Southeast program trains students for mining careers
KTOO Public Media, Maria Dudzak, January 24, 2018

Bethel Public Meeting Will Discuss Donlin Gold Water Management
KYUK Public Media