Fishing net in the water.

Ambler Access Project FAQ

What is the Ambler Access Project (AAP)? 

The Ambler Mining District is a potential source of copper, zinc and other metals. AAP is a proposed 211-mile industrial-access road that would connect the Ambler Mining District in Northwest Alaska and the Dalton Highway at milepost 161. The district is near the villages of Ambler, Kobuk and Shungnak, and currently lacks the transportation infrastructure necessary for the development of any potential mineral resources.  

On May 2, 2024, following an assessment of the Final SEIS and broader project considerations, NANA’s board of directors made the decision to withdraw from further involvement in AAP. This choice reflects our commitment to our criteria, concerns about project alignment with our values, and a lack of meaningful consultation. 

How did NANA come to this decision?

NANA has a near 40-year history with responsible resource development that co-exists with the traditional subsistence practices of the Iñupiat in the region. NANA wanted the opportunity to engage shareholders and partners to see if the criteria it established could be met at this time to allow for responsible development in the Upper Kobuk. To date the project applicant has been unable to make meaningful progress towards these criteria. Specifically, ensuring controlled permitted access along the entire route that includes NANA in management of access. Additionally, NANA is very concerned with the overreach of the Bureau of Land Management’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and the lack of meaningful consultation with NANA as an Alaska Native Corporation and what this means for resource and infrastructure development in the region.

What does this mean for mineral development in the Upper Kobuk?

NANA recognizes the significant value and economic potential the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects has for the region and to provide critical minerals for the energy transition. However, any resource development project and its associated transportation methods must align with necessary criteria to ensure protection of subsistence and our traditional way of life. The Ambler Access Project, as proposed, does not meet NANA’s criteria.

What is NANA doing to communicate with its Shareholders about this decision?

NANA has engaged with shareholders, communities and Tribes since the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority submitted an application for a right-of-way for the Ambler Access Project to cross federal lands. NANA will conduct another round of village engagement on the Ambler Access Project and its recent decision. Information on AAP is also available to Shareholders on the NANA website and future updates on the AAP will be published in The Hunter.

Will NANA stay involved in the ongoing work to identify sites of cultural and historic significance along the Ambler Access Project proposed route?

Yes, the Programmatic Agreement is used to identify sites of cultural and historic significance under the National Historic Preservation Act. NANA has a right to be consulted on all sites related to the proposed Ambler Access Project. The Bureau of Land Management is continuing its work under the Programmatic Agreement regardless of the findings of the SEIS to establish what the process of identifying and classifying sites looks like for the survey work already completed, and if a future project were to proceed. Tribes in the NANA region are also included in this process.

Will NANA remain an intervenor defendant for the Ambler Access Project in the current court case?

Yes, NANA entered the case to protect its rights as laid out in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act section 201(4)(d), which authorizes surface transportation across approximately 20 miles of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (GAAR). Should NANA Shareholders and the neighboring region find there to be the right time and partnerships to build a road across GAAR, this statute will be an asset to them. It remains imperative that our people continue to have self-determination over what happens on and near our ancestral homeland. NANA’s involvement in future ligation around the Ambler Access Project has not yet been determined.

What will happen with NANA’s partnership with Ambler Metals?

The partnership will remain intact. NANA will work with Ambler Metals to reassess the future of Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects.

Where can I learn more about the Ambler Access Project?

More information can be found at the links below. NANA does not endorse any position or information provided on these third-party sites.  

Bureau of Land Management:  
Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority:

Does this mean that NANA has shut the door on accessing the Upper Kobuk?

No, NANA maintains its interest in potential mineral development in the Upper Kobuk should NANA Shareholders and the neighboring region find the right time and partnerships to build a road across that meets the expectations of these regions.

What are NANA’s concerns about the Bureau of Land Management’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impacts Statement?

NANA has several concerns regarding the SEIS:

  • Area of Potential Effect for Historic and Cultural Properties: The SEIS creates an unprecedented 5-mile area of potential effect across all landowners that is five times larger than other projects. This increases the area the Bureau of Land Management’s jurisdiction over NANA lands or other privately held lands. Decisions about how NANA lands are managed need to remain with NANA. 
  • Authority to Control Activity on Privately Owned Lands: The SEIS appears to overreach in its authority, attempting to control activities on privately owned lands. 
  • Inaccurate Representation of Red Dog Mine and Employment Opportunities: The SEIS inaccurately portrays the Red Dog Mine’s environmental performance, misrepresents employment opportunities associated with in-region development, and how the mine accounts for interacting with subsistence resources to minimize or eliminate impacts. NANA attempted to address these in our comments on the Draft SEIS. By misrepresenting Red Dog in the SEIS, the BLM is creating a record that may harm future projects in the region and at Red Dog. 
  • Significant Increase in Communities: The SEIS expands the number of communities accounted for in subsistence impacts from 27 to 66. Some of these communities are hundreds of miles away from the road.  

Why can’t they go in a different direction or just use another method of transportation to get the minerals out?

Building a road headed to the coast would be even more difficult to permit than a road connecting to the Dalton highway to transport ore. This would cost more money to transport supplies to construct, operate and close the mine. Other forms of transportation were considered; however, they were ruled out due to the cost of transporting equipment to the site, the cost of construction, or lack of year-round access.