What is involved in permitting a mine? The answer varies depending on the type and location of your mine. The process may often be shrouded in mystery behind the marble columns of regulatory agencies whose power comes from obscurity.

But none of this is true in the case of Alaska. The regulators there are to be congratulated for making the process clear—if not necessarily simple. A great PowerPoint presentation on the permitting process for a mine in Alaska is at this link.

At this link is a conventional listing of permits to be obtained from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to open a mine in Alaska. It is all summarized in this statement:

Large mines typically require dozens of permits from state, federal, and local government agencies. Depending on the size and nature of the mine, the permitting process may be extremely complex. For this reason, the Department of Natural Resources coordinates the process with an interagency team of experts in mine design and closure. The team reviews applications for the construction and operation of the mine by meeting state water quality standards, environmental monitoring requirements, and site closure. In order to address these issues, the team must understand the chemistry of the mine’s ore, waste rock, and tailings. The process provides a model for efficient permitting and environmental protection.

Do not forget that you will need many more permits from federal agencies.

Of course everybody is excited about the large mine projects potentially upcoming in Alaska. Pebble is but one example of a controversial project—and the reason for the PowerPoint presentation referenced above.

But is you just want to open a small gold mine, things might be a bit easier—see this link where the permits required to undertake small gold mining in Alaska are listed and explained.

The real issue regarding mine permitting in Alaska comes down to the question: is permitting an objective process? We will simply have to wait to see.