BETHEL, Alaska — An Alaska company is investing in programs for youths and others to fulfill its promise to hire local workers for a proposed gold mine project.

Donlin Goldspends $1 million annually on workforce development programs like Yuut Elitnaurviat and Excel Alaska, which train rural Alaskans for jobs near home, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Friday.

Two Native corporations own the mineral rights and land for the prospective gold mine 280 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Donlin helps fund scholarships from Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, as well as donating to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program.

Donlin promised to prioritize shareholders from the corporations. The company subsequently needs a pipeline of community shareholders already trained for jobs at a mine that may not begin operating for years.

The mine project is expected to last up to 27 years, according to Donlin Gold’s website

Excel Alaska takes students as early as seventh grade and tailors sessions to fit the skills each one needs to obtain a job in his or her village, providing training through high school.

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