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Graphite One Suspends Drilling, Work at Mining Site Near Teller, For the Summer

Flying over the Kigluaik Mountains. Photo: Jenn Ruckel, KNOM.

Field work at the Graphite Creek project site, north of Nome, has been cancelled for the summer due to COVID-19. Despite this setback, Graphite One executives expect the mine’s prefeasibility study (PFS) to be completed this fall.

Stan Foo, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Graphite One, says the company does not need to do any more field work this summer in order to complete the PFS.

“Right now there really will not be a significant field program in 2020. We do have some maintenance activities scheduled for this summer and possibly in the fall, associated with a remote weather station that’s set up in the project site.”

According to Foo there will occasionally be two to three workers coming into the region to check on the remote instruments set up at the project site, which is less than 50 miles north of Nome near the Kigluaik Mountains. But in terms of hiring local residents to help with the drilling program and field work, like they did in 2019, that won’t be happening this year.

“Really much of the effort that we had planned for this summer would have gone towards the feasibility study, which would be following the prefeasibility study. So what that means is we are probably looking at a more robust drilling program in 2021, should everyone be comfortable with moving forward, given the pandemic issues and things like that.”

That isn’t to say that Graphite One isn’t utilizing local and regional input for this mining project.

Joy Huntington, the head of community relations for the company, says Graphite One is still maintaining virtual contact with the community of Teller as well as other regional stakeholders.

“We’ve been able to do annual meetings every year since 2014, and so this will be the first year that we are not able to sit down in person, just depending on travel restrictions and whatnot. But I think as a project team, we are definitely going to be patient and err on the side of caution when it comes to hosting any events locally in Teller and Brevig Mission, as well as Nome.”

Graphite One also has an active Subsistence Advisory Council made of up residents from communities in the surrounding region, which was created to advise the project team a couple years ago.

Huntington also emphasized that when the prefeasibility study on the Graphite Creek project is released in the fall, it will not be available to the public. Instead, the company will provide a summary of the study to the local communities and anyone else who is interested.

The project is still a few years away from becoming a reality and it will have to complete the feasibility study, along with several environmental studies, and apply for permits beforehand.

Image at top: Overview of the area near Kigluaik Mountains, where Graphite One’s proposed mining project and site are currently located. Photo: Jenn Ruckel, KNOM file.

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