Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Safety Questions

Will the ore haul trucks go through Fairbanks and North Pole?

Yes. They will take the Richardson Highway through North Pole. Between North Pole and Fairbanks they will pull off onto a break-down yard. By the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT&PF) regulations, they cannot run the longer double tractor-trailers through town but must change from double trailers to single trailers, doubling the number of trucks through Fairbanks.

From the Richardson the route follows the Mitchell Expressway to Peger Road, then north on Peger across Airport Road onto the Johansen Expressway, then east on the Johansen where it rejoins the Steese Expressway at the signaled intersection (scheduled for major reconfiguration in 2024). The route then heads north on the Steese through Fox and up to Fort Knox. (Published Kinross maps)

How heavy are these trucks?

Each 120′ long double tractor-trailer will weigh 80 tons.
(Source: Kinross 2/15/22, Delta PowerPoint Slide 16)

How often will the trucks travel the route?

From Tetlin northeast up the ALCAN to the Richardson Highway to the Mitchell Expressway overpass in Fairbanks there will be 192 double tractor-trailer transits per day. If you were to stand at any given point along this part of the route, an ore hauling truck will pass by you every 7 minutes 30 seconds.

From the Mitchell Expressway overpass, through Fairbanks crossing Airport Road on Peger Road, on the Johansen Expressway and Steese Highway there will be 384 single tractor-trailer transits per day, or one truck passing by any given point along the route every 3 minutes and 45 seconds. The current proposal states that the trucking operation will run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Kinross says there will be less than a 1% increase in traffic in Fairbanks. Is this true?

ASAH cannot duplicate this claim based on DOT&PF published traffic numbers. For example, the current average number of heavy trucks on Peger Road is 863/day.

The addition of 384 ore trucks transiting over Peger Road daily is a 45% increase in heavy truck traffic and a 2.5% increase in all traffic, not 1% as claimed by Kinross in presentations and literature.

Source: manhchoh.com

Increase In Truck Traffic along the route

Source: The Alaska Department of Transportation’s Traffic Analysis and Data Application website
*indicates only TOTAL vehicle count is available, truck traffic is not separately counted
On mobile devices, click "+" sign to view additional table data
LocationIncreaseAvg Daily Truck TrafficAdd'l Ore Truck TrafficData Year
AK Hwy @ Johnson River Bridge96%200*1922021
AK Hwy east of Delta Junction (MP 1421)117%1641922021
Richardson Hwy @ Moose Creek (MP 346)2%8980*1922021
Richardson Hwy @ Big Bend (MP 359)19%10201922021
Peger Road @ Chena River Bridge45%8633842020
Steese Highway, South of Fox (MP 10)198%1943842021
Steese Highway, North of Fox75%5133842020

Will Kinross be able to find enough good, experienced drivers to operate these trucks?

There is currently a national shortage of 80,000 truck drivers. Even if the shortage is addressed in the coming years, do we want inexperienced drivers on our roads, which are notoriously dangerous and in poor condition especially during the long, dark winter months? It requires years of experience to drive the long haul double tractor-trailers required by this plan in Alaskan conditions.

Will trucks be on the road during bad weather and conditions are hazardous?

Yes, the plan is for the trucking operation to be 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Kinross has stated that they will follow the law and drive according to conditions. DOT&PF regulation (17 AAC 25.014e) requires long-haul double trucks to stop during inclement weather. However, DOT&PF leaves enforcement up to the discretion of the trucking company and driver. So who will decide when it is bad enough to stop? Conditions differ along the 248-mile route. Where will trucks pull over safely? Will pull-offs be regularly cleared along the route? The trucking plan has a strict schedule with quick turnaround that will be affected by hazardous road conditions. A driving stoppage would create a dangerous situation with trucks stacked up along the route.

What will it be like to drive on the road during bad weather with all these trucks on the road?

During snowy conditions, all vehicles create a “snow tornado” especially trucks. Most Alaskans have experienced being temporarily blinded by whirling snow and not being able to see either the road or nearby vehicles. Compounding this existing situation by adding so many large trucks on our roads will increase the dangers to the traveling public.

Will traffic keep moving at normal speeds with the addition of these trucks on our public roads?

The posted speed limit on much of the road is 65 MPH. Trucks that weigh 80 tons will take time to get up to cruising speed and will naturally slow down on hills and winding corners. The drivers will adjust their speed to maintain safe conditions. Cars and other vehicles following behind these trucks will find very few opportunities to pass a 120-foot long truck. If a long truck encounters a slow moving vehicle in front of them, they won’t be able to pass them and will be forced to match the speed of the slow vehicle. Basically the speed for traffic on these roads will match the speed of the slowest vehicle on the highway and little can be done to change that.

Will the additional passing lanes proposed by DOT&PF help reduce the congestion and help travelers passing these trucks?

In the summer, passing lanes do help somewhat to relieve the backup of vehicles behind a slower moving vehicle, but often drivers speed up along this stretch and only a few are benefited. In the winter, passing lanes might actually contribute to the dangers of the road. If the DOT&PF maintenance crews don’t immediately clear the full width of the road, the passing lanes effectively create a wider two-lane road. Since the lane markers are obscured, the traffic tends to crowd the center with a berm of snow in the middle so there’s no room to pass. In the winter, most drivers find passing lanes of little benefit.

Will it be more dangerous to travel from Tok to Fairbanks if this transportation plan is implemented?

YES. Trucks, and particularly long doubles, are involved in more accidents and deaths as documented by the Federal Highway Safety Administration, FWSA. Often the truck driver doesn’t necessarily cause an accident, but rather it’s caused by dangerous road conditions, bad weather, or frustrated drivers who make mistakes. Unfortunately, more trucks cause more traffic congestion resulting in more accidents.

Do they haul these distances on public highways anywhere else in the US?

ASAH has not been able to find any examples. Typically, ore hauls on public roads are for very limited distances. This plan to haul the quantities of ore being considered over 248-miles of public highways is unprecedented in the United States.

Will the school bus stops still be safe for kids?

There are 188 daily school bus stops along the route. The school buses stop on the highways as there are no shoulders or pull offs for them. By state law, all traffic in both directions along this route will be required to stop for the buses. Kinross says they will talk to parents about the trucks and have suggested to DOT&PF that they post school bus stop warning signs. ASAH does not believe this is an adequate response by Kinross considering the dark, icy winter road conditions during much of the school year.

What about emergency services along the route?

Emergency services along most of the route are limited and provided by volunteer organizations. A hospital is located in Fairbanks, at one end of the 248-mile route.

Infrastructure Questions

How much wear and tear will these trucks cause on our roads?

Likely road damage and associated costs are unknown at this point because no critical analysis has been completed. The exact configuration of the trucks and trailers is needed for an accurate analysis. A rough estimate based on the information ASAH has gotten from Kinross public presentations is that each ore truck is the equivalent of thousands of cars driving over any given spot.

Who will maintain these roads and highways?

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities under road priority classification of “A”.

How often will snow be plowed along the proposed route?

Most of the route (except the parts going through downtown Fairbanks) are DOT&PF Priority Level 2 Roads and “May take up to 18 hours to clear after a winter storm” according to DOT&PF website information..

(Source: Kinross public meetings)

Does Kinross have to contribute to maintaining the roads and highways?

Kinross has publicly stated that they are not willing to directly contribute to any increased maintenance and repair costs resulting from the proposed trucking operation. Kinross has said they would support raising the motor fuels tax, a cost that would be borne by all Alaskans.

(Source: Kinross public meetings)

Will Borough governments help pay for road repairs?

Kinross has paid the Fairbanks North Star Borough approximately $127 million in property taxes over a 25-year period, or approximately $5M per year. The borough does not have road powers so it cannot use the money on roads. Delta and Tok are not in a borough and do not collect property taxes. Delta is a second-class city: they do not have the ability or authority to repair highway damage.

How much will the new passing lanes cost?

$40 million dollars for 8-10 additional lane miles of highway

Source: DOT&PF estimate in public meetings

Bridges built during World War II need to be replaced. How much will that cost?

The Johnson and Gerstle River bridges, built in 1944, have been on DOT&PF’s list for replacement at some point in the future. Because of this ore haul project, DOT&PF has moved these projects up on the list and plans to replace them beginning in 2025. ASAH estimates the cost of replacement in the $250 million range. The state portion will mostly be funded from the DOT&PF Northern Region Statewide Transportation Implementation Plan STIP capital allocation.

Other Questions

How much has the State received in mining license tax revenue from Kinross/Contango ORE?

Over twenty-five years, Kinross has paid the State of Alaska $50 million, or $2 million per year on average. Operating earnings (essentially net income which includes $110M of non cash depreciation, depletion etc.) for Ft. Knox was $91.9M in 2021 and $67M in 2020.

If treated as a new mine, Manh Choh will not owe mining license taxes for the first 3.5 years after production begins
(Alaska Statute 43.65.010(a)).

 Taxes are computed with allowances for depletion, deductions and credits.

There may be apportionment issues when mining operations are conducted in two or more places by one person. (AS 43.65.010)

Source: Kinross 2021 Audited Financial Statements

Who are the partners in this Joint Venture in the Manh Cho Project?

Kinross Gold Corporation and Contango ORE are the operators. The Native Village of Tetlin owns the land and is not required to participate in the 7i distribution requirement.

Source: manhchoh.com

How much gold is in the ore at Manh Choh?

The gold bearing material averages approximately six grams per ton. The Fort Knox deposit was 0.3 grams per ton. Manh Choh mine contains approximately twenty times as much gold per ton as Fort Knox. What was described as an “average deposit” at community meetings is described as a “World Class, Highest Grade open pit mine” to Kinross/Contango ORE investors.

(Source: Mr. Bob Kozak, stock analyst, Cantor Fitzgerald Buy recommendation February 7, 2022)

In addition to gold, Manh Choh mine contains silver at about 16 grams per ton of ore.
(Source: Contango ORE, Inc. News Release, April 29, 2021)

Why doesn't Kinross build a processing mill at the mine site?

They can but the simple answer is: it’s less expensive for Kinross to use a public highway at no cost to them to haul the ore to Fort Knox.

Will there be added dangers to the wildlife that is present along the route?

Collisions between vehicles and wildlife is an unfortunate fact on Alaska highways. Trucks can’t stop or swerve if an animal runs in front of them. Unless the animal gets off the road in time, a collision is inevitable.

Is the ore being hauled dangerous to the public environmentally?

There are many different types of minerals in the ore besides gold. Some of those materials could be harmful to humans and the environment. A full EPA report on the contents of the ore should be demanded and analyzed. Even though Kinross says they will tarp the loads, there will be some leakage and that airborne dust will be exposed to the public. If an accident occurs the consequences could be disastrous, especially to wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas.

Who owns the Manh Choh Mine?

This website refers to the Manh Choh Mine owners as “Kinross,” for simplicity. But there are a number of corporate entities involved.

Kinross Gold Corporation is the Canadian parent corporation that owns KG Mining (Alaska) Inc., which owns a 70% interest in Peak Gold, LLC. Kinross Gold Corporation also owns Fairbanks Gold Mining, Inc., which operates the Fort Knox mine. Kinross Gold Corporation has been the managing representative for Peak Gold, LLC to date. It has mining operations in Russia, Ghana and elsewhere in the world.

Tetlin Native Corporation owns the land and mining rights to the Manh Choh mine. It leases 675,000 acres to Peak Gold, LLC.

Peak Gold, LLC is managed by Kinross Gold Corporation or its subsidiary, KG Mining (Alaska) Inc., which owns a 70% interest.

Contango ORE, Inc. owns a 30% interest in Peak Gold, LLC. The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation owns 7.83% of Contango ORE, Inc. Contango ORE, Inc. leases and hopes to develop other gold mining claims in the areas of Tok and Willow.

In 2021, the “Peak Project” was renamed “Manh Choh,” meaning “Big Lake,” referring to nearby Tetlin Lake.

The corporation to own the ore hauling trucks has yet to be determined.

The corporation to operate the ore hauling trucks has yet to be determined, but Kinross has rejected Alaskan companies and asked outside and Canadian firms to make proposals to haul ore from Tetlin to Fort Knox.