Protecting Subsistence Resources in the Imuruk Basin


Kigluak Mountain Range above Hot Springs Creek. Site of the Proposed Graphite One Mine. (Photo credit: Hal)


The Norton Bay Watershed Council (NBWC) is working to protect tribal water and subsistence rights from mining activity in the Imuruk Basin watershed. The proposed Graphite One mine poses a serious threat to fish and wildlife, water quality, and the critical subsistence area of the Imuruk Basin. The NBWC is coordinating efforts with various advocacy groups to build public awareness of the threats from the mine and protect instream flows and salmon habitat on at-risk streams.


Protect Tribal water and subsistence rights from mining activity in the Imuruk Basin watershed.

Current Problem

Threat to Ecosystem and Subsistence

The proposed Graphite One mine in the Kigluaik Mountains near the headwaters of salmon-bearing streams of the Imuruk Basin poses a significant threat to the ecosystem and subsistence activities of tribes in the area. Graphite One plans to mine roughly four-million tons of material and process it down to roughly 60,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate on-site, before transporting the material to the Port of Nome. Tribes in the area have fished and hunted for subsistence in the Imuruk Basin and the Kigluaik Mountains in the area of the mine for millennia. The Graphite One mine threatens to wreck this important ecosystem and critical subsistence area.

Water Diversions and Impacts

Over the past several years Graphite One has requested and received temporary water authorizations from the state of Alaska to remove up to 134,000 thousand gallons of water per day out of small, sensitive salmon-bearing streams on the south-side of the Imuruk Basin for their exploratory field work. The water diversions and impacts from the mine in full operation would threaten miles of excellent salmon habitat. Mining experts are already raising concerns about acid mine drainage and the dumping of toxic mining waste into the Imuruk Basin.

Action Plan

Protecting Salmon Habitat

Tribes represented in the NBWC have applied for Flow Reservation permits from Alaska DNR to protect instream flows and salmon habitat on some of the most at-risk streams. They are collecting fish observations to add threatened streams to the Alaska Anadromous Waters Catalog.

Project timeline

The NBWC has been coordinating this effort over the past several years and will continue to closely track Graphite One’s progress.

P.O. Box 15332, Fritz Creek, AK 99603
(907) 491-1355