There are three essential elements that are key for further development in our area:
- Affordable Energy
- Local Support for Resource Development
Access is essential to getting our vast resources to market. The Governor’s Roads to Resources initiative is working to solve this problem. An important part of the plan is to build a road that connects the mineral-rich area around Ambler with the Dalton Highway. There is also the possibility of a road from the Upper Kobuk area west to a new Arctic port to be located at Cape Blossom. An Arctic port can serve as a support area for the oil and gas industries and for the U.S. Coast Guard, both of which have ships in the area during the summer drilling season. For the mining industry a port can provide a market access point.
Construction of a road from Kotzebue to the proposed port site will begin summer 2013. Funding for development of the port itself is still needed, and an additional $10 million is needed to complete the road.
The cost of energy is already making some mining projects uneconomical at this time. The Cosmos Hills Hydro Project presents an opportunity for a large hydro project in the Upper Kobuk area that would reduce the cost of energy, making development more feasible while reducing the cost of living for residents. This project is in the final permitting phase and needs additional funding. Additionally, other sub regional and region-wide energy grids that incorporate renewable resources into the system must be considered. NANA also wants to explore for natural gas near Kotzebue, which could help spur the local economy by providing local families with more discretionary income.
Local Support for Resource Development
The success of the Red Dog mine has made locals generally more supportive of development in the area. However, development must continue to be mutually beneficial. Locals expect jobs, reduced energy costs, protection of fish and game stocks for subsistence use, and the infrastructure needed to adequately support development. In order to succeed, industry and state government must engage the local community and work to build support and enthusiasm. We recognize the need for jobs in our area and around the state, and we are eager to work cooperatively with industry.