Don’t Mine in Beloved Ski Area

proposed gold mine in one of alaska's ski areas

Target: Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Stop a proposed gold mine from destroying a treasured ski area

The oldest downhill ski area in Fairbanks, Alaska is at risk of destruction by a proposed gold mine. Mining in this area will destroy a treasured community resource as well as threaten the area with the contamination and pollution associated with gold mining. Action must be taken now to protect this skiing landmark.

Skiland was founded in 1962 and remains a popular destination for downhill skiing. The site situated on a gold deposit has captured the interest of a Vancouver mining firm. The proposed mining site will destroy much of the area used for ski runs. However, the environmental impact of a gold mine far exceeds just the destruction of the land’s surface. Mining enough gold for one wedding ring creates 20 tons of waste. A rich gold mine only provides a few tenths of an ounce of gold per ton of ore.

The gold mining process is wasteful and destructive. The most common environmental problem related to gold mining is toxic mine drainage. Since gold is found in rocks that contain acid-producing sulfides, the mine site will unearth toxic substances such as sulfuric acid, arsenic, mercury, and copper. Toxic mine drainage refers to the leaching of these hazardous substances into local waterways. The risks associated with such water pollution destroy aquatic species and contaminate drinking water for local residents.

Extracting the gold from the ore poses even further issues. The ore is roasted to remove the gold. Roasting the ore, which is so high in toxic minerals, releases large amounts of mercury into the air. Cyanide, another hazardous substance to humans and wildlife, is used to douse the ore to finish off the extraction process. Cyanide allows mining operators to efficiently extract gold from low grade ore. Using cyanide for gold extraction is a controversial process since cyanide is so harmful to living beings. Cyanide destroys waterways by killing nearly everything for miles downstream. Cyanide’s effect on human health can result in respiratory arrest and death.

By signing this petition, you are urging the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator to deny the request for this destructive gold mine.


Dear Administrator McLerran,

The oldest downhill ski area in Fairbanks, Skiland, is threatened by the proposal of a destructive gold mine. Gold mining will not only destroy this treasured community resource but also threaten the natural environment and local communities’ health.

Gold mining produces tons of waste as well as emits a variety of toxic substances into the environment. Extracting gold from ore releases mercury into the atmosphere. Mercury in the air could contaminate raindrops or dust. Cyanide, a substance extremely harmful to wildlife and humans, is also used in the extraction process. Cyanide can destroy miles of fresh waterways if leached from the mine. The beloved historical area of Skiland is not the place for this gold mine.

Please take action now to protect the area of Skiland from this destructive mine. The health of Alaska’s environment and residents is at stake.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Antti T. Nissinen via Flickr

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