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. 

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 95′ 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 and then on to Ft. Knox, there will be up to 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.

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 192 ore trucks transiting over Peger Road daily is a 23% increase in heavy truck traffic. 

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 Bridge23%8631922020
Steese Highway, South of Fox (MP 10)99%1941922021
Steese Highway, North of Fox38%5131922020

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 95-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.

how many times has Kinross met with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District to discuss THE SCHOOL BUS ISSUE?`

None – there have been no meetings nor a request for same

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.

How many driveway intersections are there IN THE 3.6 miles from Stringer Road to the Boon Dox?

Driveway / Richardson access intersections: 53

How many driveway / access roads between Delta Jct. and EAFB?

Driveway / Richardson access intersections: 478

What is the speed limit for these trucks along these stretches of road? Is summer different than winter?

The Speed limit is 65 mph. There is no seasonal change

Will Kinross/Contango indemnify the sovereign State of Alaska against damages that are a result of Kinross/Contango and/or their contractors utilizing an unsafe ore haul method?

Unknown

What keeps the 2018 Sterling Highway rogue rock accident, resulting in an intruding rock from an ore haul dump truck fatally wounding an 8 yr. old boy (N.S.), from happening knowing there will be 70,080 such transits every year?

Unknown

On the Richardson Highway in Salcha, if an 80-ton 95’ double ore hauling unit is travelling north at 60 mph (speed limit is 55), passes over the Munson Slough bridge, begins to round the upcoming curve to the right, then approaches the “SCHOOL AHEAD” flashing yellow light, is there a measurement of how far ahead on the right is the driveway entering and exiting the Salcha Elementary School?

Assuming a highway clear of vehicles ahead (not already waiting or slowing at the school driveway), any vehicle, ore truck or otherwise, at 60 MPH has 10.6 seconds to come to a full stop before arriving at the driveway. It is unmeasured as yet, but slightly more, travelling from the north.

Will DOT be able to enforce its own Wheeled Vehicles regulations (Chapter 25) which authorize DOT to stop operations during inclement weather? Per DOT regulations “inclement weather” is defined as: a) fog, rain, or snow that restricts visibility to less than 1,000 feet; b) wind conditions that render a vehicle unable to maintain directional control within one driving lane; or c) an accumulation of ice, snow, or freezing rain upon a roadway that render a vehicle unable to maintain traction.

There has not been an analysis of the ability of our public safety component to effectively follow the law. The enormity of truck frequency cannot be modeled as it has never occurred anywhere else in the United States if not the world. 

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.

What will HAPPEN AS OTHER MINES ON THE ROAD SYSTEM OPEN UP AND ADD MORE TRUCKS TO OUR ROADWAYS?

Without expensive road reconstruction, which will be funded out of the DOT Northern Region STIP allocation at the expense of other broader projects, more trucks mean less safety. And the decrease in safety because of additional 95’ 80-ton ore haul trains is not linear, its exponential.

Is the Chena Hot Springs Road overpass bridge adequate to accommodate THIS MANY HEAVY TRUCKS?

Kinross has been formally asked this question and referred the response to AKDOT.
It is ASAH’s understanding that while the overpass can accommodate heavy loads (100 ton?), such load cannot transit the overpass at the frequency being proposed by the Kinross ore haul plan. Therefore the “railroad gates” may be a portion of the solution.

How much will new passing lanes cost and what is the result of the expenditures between EAFB / Delta and Delta / Tok?

The current plan is new or enlarged passing lanes totaling an estimated 10 – 14 miles in the 76-mile journey. The cost for EAFB to Delta is estimated at $40M.
There are only conceptual plans or costs as yet for the Delta – Tok segment.

How much wear and tear will the additional ore haul traffic add to the deterioration of our interior highways?

ASAH’s volunteer (with solid professional credentials) has done an ESAL analysis based on the best rolling stock configuration estimates.
The four deliveries per hour will cause the ore haul highways route to deteriorate from 37% to 57% faster than without the haul.
The ore haul effect on the deterioration of the haul route will be more than all other traffic combined for the life of the haul.

Long bridges, which were built during World War II have reached the end of their design life. How much will these replacements cost and where is the fund source for the construction? Are they STIP funds?

The Johnson River, Gerstle, and Tanana bridges are estimated to require $300 – $500M. The State funding match for these will come from the Northern Region STIP allocation which will lessen funds available for other needs.

I’m told there’s a way to calculate road wear & tear due to traffic and the expectancy of a road to perform to its life as designed. Can the road engineers calculate that?

There is and it’s done by calculating ESAL’s (Equivalent Single Axle Load) built into every road project. An ESAL is the nationally accepted standard of measuring damage done to highway surface transportation modes by loaded truck traffic.

When a new road is designed or is reconstructed, think of the engineers creating an “ESAL Bank”. They design the project to certain design specs and a certain number of ESAL is deposited in this “bank”. Every truck configuration has its own ESAL rating and each time this loaded truck passes over this road a certain number of ESAL are withdrawn When all the ESAL’s are gone the road is beyond its design life and requires replacement or rebuild.

Can we use ESAL’s to calculate the effect the new ore haul traffic will have on the three highways to be used?

Yes, but one needs to know the configuration of the haul unit which Kinross has yet to reveal even after almost 2 years of “study”. So using ASAH’s best estimate for a 95’ 80 ton tractor-trailer B train configuration, a retired professional highway engineer has provided ASAH a volunteer “best estimate” given everything we know.

His volunteer estimates are: (1) between Tetlin and Delta, the ore haul trains will account for 57% of the road wear and tear and (2) between Delta and EAFB, they will account for 30%.

It should be noted that when the ESAL Bank is empty, and these roads require replacement or repair, the funds come from our state’s Unrestricted General Fund (the STIP) and/or Federal Highway funds. Very little (FY 2021 Spring Revenue forecast – 0.6% total UGF contribution) comes from the mining industry contribution.

Is Kinross planning on establishing an endowment or willing to provide funds to assist the State of Alaska in paying for major road improvements and maintenance on these class 2 roads or to upgrade large sections to class 1 roads?

Kinross has been approached by ADOT (mid 2020) about special use fees because of the extraordinary increase in wear. They declined but instead suggested, at two different public meetings* that the statewide $0.08 /per gallon gas tax be increased to every citizen to supply additional funding road maintenance. (* August 14, 2021 & January 18, 2021 )

Does the 248-mile (one-way) ore haul route constitute an “Industrial Highway designation under State of Alaska statutes or regulations?

Possibly. A question for the state of Alaska to answer. It’s complicated but bears analysis and discussion.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the GARS (Gaffney/Airport Road/Richardson/Steese) intersection was modeled then marketed to the public using a digital computer simulation of traffic loads and conflicts. Would not this same analytical method be helpful with the ore haul proposal?

Absolutely. ASAH has suggested this method of analysis as a vital tool. It clearly will show the congestion at vital points along the ore haul route.

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.

WHAT IS THE NEW KINROSS "ALASKA STRATEGY?"

It appears, from corporate publicly released documents and corporate public statements (J. Brans VP Ft. Knox) , Kinross – Alaska will reach out 300 miles to all gold mines on our road and river system, transport the respective ore from the mine, process it at Ft. Knox, export the refined gold then place the tailings in the growing Ft. Knox mine tailings pile.

how do you figure an ore hauler will pass any one particular point on the 500 mile roundtrip transit every 7½ minutes?

Simple math produces these results. Four trucks leaving the mine per hour and four empties returning means an ore hauler will pass any one point on the 500 mile roundtrip on average every 7.5 minutes.
Kinross has disputed these calculations but without publishing their method of calculation.

The FNSB has received $2.5M for use in converting our diesel-powered mass transit busses into clean burning compressed natural gas (CNG) busses and vans. This effort will follow the guidelines of a 2019 resolution passed by the FNSB assembly directing the borough to improve the Metropolitan Area Commuter System (MACS) transit system and “contribute to improved air quality in the community.” What is the net offset, positive or negative, of converting our transit system to clean and green CNG while at the same time opening the gates of our Serious non-attainment area to a daily quantity 192 95’ diesel powered 80-ton ore hauling units (one every 7 ½ minutes)? What is the effect on our already troublesome air quality?

This answer must be answered using due diligence with proven science unblemished by questionable, unpublished, and absent peer review.

How are trucks from additional developments needing access to the highways being accommodated?

There has been no mention of additional ore haul units needing access and utilization of the ALCAN, Richardson, Steese, or Parks Highway in spite of knowledge of exploratory drilling being currently performed by Kinross/Contango contractors

What is the status of the trucking contractor RFP and when will the trucking plan be released for public scrutiny?

The search for a trucking contractor has gone through three iterations. First was state of Alaska wide which was termed “non-responsive” and the search was expanded to the U.S. & Canada. That search failed and went worldwide. That failed and on September 12, 2022, Kinross announced that a contract had been awarded to Black Gold Transport, a subsidiary of Black Gold Express.

Where is Mayor Ward and his administration on this issue and why have they been so quiet?

Your concern is valid. An answer to this question must come from the Ward administration. Your interest would be best transmitted to Mayor Ward and encourage his active involvement in holding the developer accountable to the public.

Will Kinross measure baseline and monitor heavy metals and Ph levels along the entirety of the ore transport route from Manh Choh to Ft. Knox during the life span of the ore transport plan?

The February 11, 2022 letter from the EPA to the Corp of Engineers regarding the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) compliance will shed light on this issue as answers are pending.

will Kinross consider and treat ore as hazardous waste?

The February 11, 2022 letter from the EPA to the Corp of Engineers regarding the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) compliance will shed light on this issue as answers are pending.

Will Kinross station clean-crews and equipment along the ore haul route for rapid core clean up before toxic metals are leached into the environment?

Unknown, Kinross and agencies will have to establish robust mitigation procedures along the haul route.

WAS The recent million-dollar contribution BY KINROSS to UAF an outright gift?

It was not a gift. It was merely a redirection of existing Kinross’s existing state corporate income tax obligations. Instead of the funds going to the Undesignated General Fund (UGF) to help pay for road maintenance, schools, troopers, and our public health needs, Kinross chose to divert the funds away from the General Fund over to UAF.
The million dollars was going to leave the Kinross checkbook and go somewhere, they chose the university.

What was the process USED TO SELECT THE TRUCK route? Did I miss a public input meeting? Was the FNSB involved in agreeing to this route and if so, when?

ASAH have asked on numerous occasions why the current route was selected and what the process was to make that selection. From what ASAH can put together: 1) The decision was made sometime in late 4th quarter 2020 or 1st quarter of 2021. 2) It was made solely between AKDOT and Kinross. 3) There was no public outreach. 4) FNSB planning, the cities of North Pole and Fairbanks were not advised nor consulted. 5) Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation (FAST) was not consulted.
AKDOT did not announce the route until the 4th quarter of 2021

At the 9/12/22 City Council meeting Kinross revealed the formation of Black Gold Transport “that after an extensive search” and “solely formed for the purpose of the ore haul function.” What was this “extensive search” and without names, how many firms were solicited and responded from Alaska, United States (northern or southern regions), Canada, and/or worldwide, and over what length of time did this search span?

Details are unknown and will have to answered by the developer. However, it is known that there were at least three separate tranches of RFP’s published beginning in the third quarter of 2021. The selection of Black Gold Transport is the result of the first three RFP’s failing to be satisfied. That selection was announced September 11, 2022.

There will be an 80 ton 95’ ore hauling unit stopping at the Tok, Fairbanks 3 mile, and Steese weigh scales every 15 minutes in both directions. How long does it take for such a load load to slow down to a stop, exercise the scale, and resume normal speed when merging back into the flow of traffic? Will ore haulers be able to bypass the scales in either direction?

Time to resume highway speed unknown, only estimated. Will have to be calculated and/or simulated. Estimate nominal 7 minutes.
AKDOT has informed ASAH that all AAC Chapter 25 Weights & Measures regulation and laws. There will be no waivers required.

Kinross recently released their ore haul sound study (performed August 30 and September 1, 2021). Knowing there is yet to be a configuration for the haul units, how can a valid sound study be undertaken until you know specifically what sound is being measured? Doesn’t Kinross need to explain this 2021 data is “base line data” to be utilized when actual loaded 80-ton haul units can be included as part of the sound study?

The published sound study is irrelevant until it is validated by a third-party sound engineering firm.

To what extent does the mining industry contribute to the Alaska State Budget?

In the State of Alaska Spring 2020 Revenue Forecast (the formal document used to build the upcoming state budget -$8.7B in FY2020) the largest contributor to the state budget was the federal government (48.2%) and the smallest was the mining industry (.6%); less than the commercial fishing and the tourism industry.

The lowest General Fund contributor but one of the highest users. Remember, none of the property tax collected in the FNSB goes toward highway maintenance. The FNSB does not have road powers so all M&O funding is derived from UGF (Unrestricted General Fund) contribution which is where the mining industry contributes the least of any industry.

Is there state land available for lease or sale near Tetlin that can be used as a processing / tailing site?

Yes – possibly within 50 miles on state mining claims land.