Where The Heck is Donlin?
Last modified: 30th November 2023
Blog Posts and Updates
- The Donlin bikers reach McGrath
- The journey begins again
- Free turkeys and the challenges of a filmmaker
- Final paddle into Bethel
- PRESS RELEASE: The Adventure Continues (March 2012)
Where the Heck is Donlin?
Sited deep in the Bush of Southwestern Alaska, the Donlin Gold prospect is the largest proposed gold mine in Alaska’s history. However, an overwhelming majority of Alaskan residents are unfamiliar with the details of it’s development and implications. Located above a tributary that flows into the mighty Kuskokwim River, this open pit mine would bring both economic opportunities and environmental consequencesto this remote region. Numerous local residents seek employment at the mine, with promise of an increased quality of life on a monetary scale, barring the threat of acid-mine drainage and mercury contamination of the watershed.
Careful engineering, promised by Donlin LLC (a NovaGold and Barrick Gold collaboration), could mitigate the negative impacts. However, open-pit mining can require the perpetual storage of harmful waste material and if so, the site would need to be diligently monitored and maintained to ensure the containment of toxins detrimental to the watershed and subsistence-based lifestyles. Forever.
Noting the absence of available data, as well as the lack of awareness surrounding the proposal, Bjorn and Kim took on the ground-truth-trekking model of investigative research, and set out to explore some of the unanswered questions from the source. Completing a three-part, 1,000 mile human powered wilderness expedition through the proposed footprint of the mine, they engaged the people that they encountered on the subjects of perpetual waste storage, the significance of subsistencefisheries, the energy demands of a large-scale mine, and the challenges facing rural residents to name a few.
** ** ** ‘Where the Heck is Donlin?’ is finished!**
We rode our snow bikes on 350 miles of the historic Iditarod trail. We paddled our Alpacka packrafts on 500 miles of wildly remote Kuskokwim waters and we returned to the river with our snow bikes for a third trip this last spring. We visited residents, lodge-owners, trail-users, small villages, schools, and fish camps. We met and interviewed the people in the region. We documented it all with our small budget and simple equipment. Now it’s time to share our story in a feature length documentary: Where The Heck Is Donlin?
The completed film will provide visibility and insight for things that can make a tremendous difference if the mine is built - things like a high level, comprehensive study on the mercury threat, environmental advocacy work to bring the Alaska mine permitting system into the 21st century, and a constant monitoring effort to make sure the mine is not putting profits before people.
People from the Kuskokwim region, greater Alaska, and from the far corners of the globe have encouraged and supported the need for awareness on this issue. Our Kickstarter campaign was a success and we received enough donations to complete the film on scheduel. Now, we are currently looking for festivals and venues in Alaska and beyond to screen the film. We plan to have DVDs available through Ground Truth Trekking once public screening has wound down. If you would like to host a screening of the film please send an email to: email@example.com
Visit our slideshow.
Created: Jan. 19, 2018