Alaska Conference on Mining Impacts and Prevention

On March 16-18, 2022, Alaska Conservation Foundation brought together over 159 tribal leaders, community members, conservation advocates, technical experts, and funders to engage in and learn about preventing industrial-scale mining and associated activities as well as reforming practices and mitigating impacts in Alaska.

Background

Since the 1950s, Alaska’s economy has relied on extractive industries. With logging and oil industries continuing to decline, Alaska is already beginning to invest heavily into a new era of extraction in the form of industrial-scale mining. Mining and associated activities intersect with a variety of critical issues Alaskans are already facing. Most importantly, mining operations threaten critical subsistence resources and contribute to toxic air and water pollution that impact community health. Additionally, increased mining activity will expand the need for dirty energy in order to power mining operations and require the building of roads to access mining claims which would intersect critical salmon and other wildlife habitats.

As the country takes necessary steps to shift towards a clean energy future to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, it’s imperative that climate justice is at the forefront. As we begin to consider sourcing additional metals and minerals for clean energy technology, we feel strongly that this transition must be just. This conference offered an opportunity for participants to share knowledge, uplift stories, and build relationships that further allowed Alaskans to explore the need for a Just Transition – a framework for a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable, and just for all Alaskans –  and a regenerative economy.

Conference Format 

The conference took place at the Alyeska Resort on the land of the Dena’ina in Girdwood, Alaska with a 3-day agenda centered around storytelling, knowledge sharing, and relationship building. Between 19 breakout sessions, three plenary sessions, and intentional unscheduled time to foster community building, participants were able to build connections and learn strategies to prevent industrial-scale mining threatening their communities. 

Conference Objectives & Purpose

  • To identify and support potential collaborative efforts to prevent industrial-scale mining and associated activities in Alaska. 
  • To provide opportunities for participants to learn and expand their knowledge and skills in areas such as organizing, communication, legal and other technical expertise that is pertinent to preventing industrial-scale mining. 
  • To bring funders to Alaska who may be interested in supporting mining reform and preventing industrial-scale mining (and associated activities) in Alaska.
  • Elevate the experiences of those directly impacted by mining, especially Indigenous peoples, who are often the most affected and who have stewarded our land for generations.

Outcomes

The majority of conference attendees felt that the gathering met its objectives, but that additional and continual engagement is important moving forward. Participants shared that their top priorities moving forward are additional support to: 

  • Build Relationships
  • Develop Community Organizing Skills
  • Foster Coalition Building

After a long two years of virtual meetings, the widespread consensus was that the opportunity to safely gather in person led to invaluable connections to carry into future advocacy work. The momentum built over the course of this 3-day gathering is carrying into many ongoing efforts to prevent industrial-scale mining and its impacts in Alaska. 

How Can You Help? 

Through many different mediums, we’ve heard that there is a need and desire for Alaska Conservation Foundation to continue to play a convening role in state-wide mining work. This is why Alaska Conservation Foundation has introduced the Mining Fund to support grassroots and tribal efforts to address industrial-scale mining and associated activities across Alaska.

Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Mining Fund will provide organizations and communities support in a variety of ways:

  1. Convenings for strategy development, coalition fostering, and further relationship building
  2. Organizing, mobilization, and communications support
  3. Travel for trainings, lobbying, and agency meetings
  4. Technical support such as water monitoring and/or legal support

The feedback from the Alaska Conference on Mining Impacts and Prevention was a testament to just how quickly the threat of industrial-scale mining is growing across Alaska. The overlap of shared experiences among communities affected by the various mining projects and the desire for community members to connect with one another is why Alaska Conservation Foundation is raising funds to fund efforts to ultimately protect our clean water, wild salmon, and ways of life in Alaska from run-away industrial-scale mining.

Consider donating to the Mining Fund today!