DEC Division of Water reaffirms 401 Certification for Donlin mine

JUNEAU AK (5/13/2022) – The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Water today reaffirmed its 2019 401 Certificate of Reasonable Assurance that the proposed Donlin Gold mine’s discharges to water would comply with Alaska water quality standards. The reaffirmation followed review of two technical reports from Donlin Gold LLC with new information on the impact of proposed discharges on mercury and water temperature, as well as information from Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC).

“In addition to reviewing the data, Division of Water’s permitting staff contracted with third-party experts to provide their opinion of Donlin’s and ONC’s reports,” said Randy Bates, Division of Water Director. “Everything that we have reviewed and analyzed further validates our issuance of the 401 Certification that Donlin will be able to meet Alaska water quality standards.”

Under Section 401 of the U.S. Clean Water Act states must either issue a Certificate of Reasonable Assurance that proposed discharges to water would meet state water quality standards or waive the certification before the associated federal Section 404 permit to discharge dredge or fill material may be issued or deny the certification in which case the federal Section 404 permit would not be issued.

ONC appealed DEC’s decision to issue the certificate to Alaska Superior Court in June 2021. Donlin Gold LLC asked for a temporary stay in September 2021 to provide all parties with additional information on two water quality standards at issue in ONC’s appeal: mercury and water temperature limits. At DEC’s request, the Court remanded the decision to issue the certificate back to the Division to review in light of the new information.

A copy of the decision from DEC’s Division of Water is available on the Division’s website –

Contact: Water Division Director Randy Bates, (907) 465-5307