Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Co-managment between Red Dog Mine and the Government in the operation of zinc mining in northwest Alaska Kotzebue

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Co-managment between Red Dog Mine and the Government, in the operation of zinc mining in northwest Alaska, Kotzebue

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Description of the community forestry case study – Where located; history; national or regional context (if appropriate)

Red Dog Mine is one of the world’s largest zinc mines located about 170 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in northwest Alaska, near Kotzebue. Red Dog Operations was developed in 1989 through an agreement between the operator Teck and the land owner NANA (Northwest Alaska Native Association), a Regional Alaska Native corporation owned by the Inupiat people of northwest Alaska. Since the mine developed and this partnership began the mine positively impacted the Alaskan economy.

Red dog was discovered around the 1960s when Bob Baker, a local pilot, noticed uncharacteristic markings on the land. He urged the U.S. Geographical Survey geologists to sample the area. They named the area Red Dog Mine after Bakers dog. By the 1970’s significant mineralization was confirmed, which made the region a high interest area for major mining companies. The interest of NANA also intensified, because they knew the potential impacts this could have on them and their land. This is when the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) became law and NANA was legally owned the land underlying Red Dog.

NANA Regional Corporation is a regional Alaska Native corporation formed in 1972 under the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). It is a for-profit corporation and one of the 13 Regional Native Corporations created as a result of the ANCSA. This act was passed by congress and signed into law by the President in 1971. NANA seeks to “improve the quality of life for shareholders by maximizing economic growth, protecting and enhancing the lands, and promoting healthy communities with decisions, actions, and behaviors inspired by our Inupiat Iliqusiat values consistent without core principles” (NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., 2017). Providing benefits to over 14,000 Inupiat shareholders whilst protecting their lands. NANA created their corporation based on Inupiat culture and their traditional indigenous values system – Inupiat Iliqusiat.

Inupiat Iliqusiat means “the real people”, which is the center of NANA’s values. The Inupiaq say that every person is responsible for the survival of their cultural spirit and the values and traditions through which is survives. Their understanding of the universe and their place in it is a belief in God and a respect for all if his creation. To correctly and respectfully incorporate these values and culture into the NANA corporation is a significant factor in why the corporation has had so much success and local support over the years.

Teck Resources is Canada's largest diversified natural resource company with operations and projects in Canada, the United States, Chile, and Peru and has been a producer of essential minerals such as copper, zinc, steelmaking, coal, and energy for over 100 years. They have committed to be a leader in sustainability and to show responsible resource development. Teck has helped create jobs, drive innovation, and build communities while trying to make the industry more sustainable. These values have helped make the partnership with NANA on Red Dog a successful, respectful, beneficial one for all involved.

Red Dog is located on land owned by the NANA Regional Corporation and is operated by the commercial mining company Teck Recourses in partnership with NANA Development Corporation. It is an open-pit truck-and-loader operation, which uses conventional drills and blast mining methods. The ore concentrate taken from the mine is trucked westward to a shipping facility in the Chukchi Sea where it is stores until shipping season. This mine is a major source of revenue for native corporations across the state. The creation of Red Dog Mine, and the relationship between Teck, NANA, Alaska State, and the communities surrounding has been an effective and successful community forestry story.

Tenure arrangements

Tenure arrangements. Describe the nature of the tenure: freehold or forest management agreement/arrangements, duration, etc.

Tenure is the right to land and/or property. In this case, a forest management agreement was signed by both NANA, the land owner, and Teck who was interested in developing the mine to make a profit. The mine was developed under this operating agreement between NANA, an Alaska Native Corporation (ANC) owned by the Iñupiat people of Northwest Alaska, and Teck Alaska, a U.S. subsidiary of Teck Resources Limited, a diversified mining and metals company. NANA owns the land that Red Dog is located on, which allows their shareholders to receive direct benefits. This agreement successfully held a mutual respect between a mining company and indigenous people.

Administrative arrangements

Administrative arrangements. Describe the management authority and the reporting system.

Teck Alaska Incorporated submitted a Reclamation and Closure Plan for the Red Dog Mine, the plan approval is for activities on private and state managed lands encompassed by the Red Dog Mine. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water (ADNR), Alaska Statutes, and the Alaska Administrative Code gave approved of this plan. This document refers to Teck Alaska Incorporated operating through the agreement with NANA Regional Corporation. This plan approval does not constitute certification of any property right or land status claimed in this document.

This plan was approved with a few key conditions: - Modifications to the plan and other affected permits and authorizations along with assignment transfers can be requested through a written approval from the ADNR - Inspections are subject to safety and security procedures that are in place, and approval for inspection at any reasonable times - These inspections are done without notice and/or the purpose of inspection - Written documents, records or other information is required to be kept and maintained by law - Violations such as not paying any fees, failure to comply to any laws, and any conditions and terms results in revoked permit immediately

A major factor in this plan is that the approval of all applicable statutes, including state, federal, and any local statutes are in effect. Any changes to regulations, ordinances enacted, or new statutes after the date this plan was approved (2016), are constitutionally permissible.

Teck Headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, is committed to a strong corporate governance. The Board of Directors has a Corporate Governance Committee that works with their General Counsel to ensure that governance practices are up to date and that they meet applicable standards. Teck believes that these solid governance structures and systems protect the interests of investors and other Communities of Interest.

Affected Stakeholders

Social actors (stakeholders, user groups) who are affected stakeholders, their main relevant objectives, and their relative power

Social actors that are affected stakeholders are the local community members, NANA employees, Red Dog employees and all Shareholder employment. Through the agreement between NANA and Tech, preference for jobs at Red Dog Mine go to qualified NANA shareholders. Residents from Noatak and Kivalina, the two villages closest to the mine, were given additional hiring preference based on the idea that their communities would be most directly affected by the mine’s operations. The agreement aimed for 100 percent shareholder hire by 2001. Due to an employment and Training Committee provided for under the Agreement, the development of initiatives have helped maximize the number of NANA shareholders working at Red Dog.Red dog also has a determined on-the-job training program and extensive student development efforts. Due to these efforts, almost all employees at Red Dog are NANA shareholders. There was scarce opportunity for jobs in the region before the development of Red Dog, which now provides hundreds of jobs to locals and families in surrounding communities. Without the development of this mine, these affected stakeholders would no longer have the income and benefits they’ve been provided, nor would they all be able to find satisfying jobs elsewhere in the region.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Social actors (stakeholders, user groups) who are interested stakeholders, outside the community, their main relevant objectives, and their relative power

Teck is considered one of the major interested stakeholders at Red Dog Mine. Tech is a diversified resource company with major business units focused on copper, metallurgical coal, zinc and energy. Therefore, they have the power and resources to step away from the mine without any major negative impacts on them. Their livelihood does not depend on Red Dog, as they are involved in many other major businesses which gain them profit.


A discussion of the aims and intentions of the community forestry project and your assessment of relative successes or failures. You should also include a discussion of critical issues or conflicts in this community and how they are being managed

The Red Dog mine in Northwest Alaska was developed under the operating agreement between Teck Alaska and the NANA Regional Corporation, a Native corporation owned by the local Inupiat people. This mine has been a mechanism for hope for the statewide economy. The beginning of this partnership was carefully outlined, debated, and respectful partnership that has been created. Both Teck and NANA have outlined values and core principles that alien with helping each other in achieving their goals. NANA is determined to work within the legal frame work of the Alaska and U.S. Constitutions to maintain legal rights and secure equality through a fair settlement. Along with Tech who aims to be a leader in sustainability while staying committed to a responsible resource development.

For two decades Red Dog Mine has been one of the world’s largest zinc mines, and stands as a successful model of responsible resource development. This mine has become extremely beneficial for the Northwest Alaska region. For example, the mine creates 600 full-time, family-supporting jobs, the shareholders receive direct meaningful benefits from development of the mine, while also providing supportive services.

Red Dog Mine has put millions of dollars into the local economy, and over 50% of its current employees are NANA shareholders. Even though the mine is expected to continue for another 20 years, the State of Alaska law requires the operation (Teck and NANA) to develop and fund a comprehensive closure plan. This plan allows for community and stakeholders to have input into the Closure Plan. They did this through public meetings and by handing out Inupiat-language DVD to all the homes that are directly affected communities. They also facilitated multi-stakeholder workshops to systematically review options and provide feedback on stakeholder preferences. Participants of this work shop included representatives of the communities of Noatak and Kivalina, subsistence harvesting committee, Teck staff, NANA staff, state regulators, NGOs and technical specialists.


Your assessment of the relative power of each group of social actors, and how that power is being used

There are a few key structures put in place in the operating agreement that allow for equal and meaningful distribution of power at Red Dog Mine. NANA owns the land that Red Dog Mine is on, therefore the NANA Shareholders receive direct and meaningful benefits from development at the mine. As long as the mine and its development is in place, NANA - consisting of the Inupiat people – will be fairly represented and gain valuable benefits.

Teck, which holds the most power due to resources and means to develop the mine, has benefited by creating millions of dollars in profit. However, even with this overarching power, they have managed to use Red Dog Mine as a mechanism to positively influence the Alaskan economy. Bringing many jobs, resources, knowledge, and systems which have created a positive, healthy, two-way street relationship with the Inupiat people in the surrounding communities of Red Dog. Teck has supported NANA in creating supportive services, job training, family support, means of production, and goods and services.

Overall the relationship between NANA and Tech is a positive one because it allows Teck to use the land and develop the mine to make a profit, and provides many well-supporting jobs by boosting Alaska’s economy. The mine also contributes to the local economy through the purchase of local goods and services, contributions to non-profits, and in-kind services for specific events such as emergency response. These substantial socioeconomic benefits, such as increased income and employment in the region, positively effects social and psychological health. The Alaska Natives Claims Settlement Act, is also another layer of protection, outlining specific sharing provisions from profit made from the mine.


Your recommendations about this community forestry project

For this community project, overall Tech and NANA have done a very successful job maintaining an effective and efficient partnership in development at Red Dog. Both partners have gained many benefits, meaningful to each asset. This partnership has majorly improved the economy in Alaska, created hundreds of jobs in the region, supported families, communities, and local businesses, provided support services and education. However, after analysing this case, I would recommend further work be done on the environmental impact of the Mine. In my research, I have not seen much work done on human and environmental health. I would recommend an increased partnership with The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to work in collaboration with the surrounding villages and Red Dog Mine. I would further recommend a formal process for monitoring public health should be developed, and that state agencies should play a role in assessing these monitoring plans.


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