CIRI is one of 12 land-based Alaska Native Regional Corporations created by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971. CIRI’s mission is to promote the economic and social well-being and Alaska Native heritage of its shareholders, now and into the future, through prudent stewardship of the company’s resources, while furthering self-sufficiency among CIRI shareholders and their families. Headquartered in Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska’s largest private landowner, CIRI prioritizes striking a balance between sustainably developing resources while protecting the land for future generations. CIRI is currently owned by approximately 9,000 shareholders of Alaska Native descent. Learn more at www.CIRI.com.
Johnson Tract Mineral Deposit
On May 21, 2019, CIRI entered into a lease agreement with Constantine Metal Resources Ltd., which was subsequently assigned to HighGold Mining Inc., that authorized exploration of a gold- and zinc-rich deposit in a private inholding within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Known as the Johnson Tract, the property was conveyed to CIRI under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971 and the Cook Inlet Land Exchange of 1976. As part of its land selection, CIRI was granted surface and subsurface ownership of the Johnson Tract, and mutually agreed upon easements for future mineral development activities.
Cook Inlet Land Exchange: A Little History
The Cook Inlet Land Exchange was pivotal to CIRI’s history and shaped the south-central Alaska landscape for generations. ANCSA held the promise that Alaska Native people would retain lands of like and similar character to their cultural and traditional lands. In CIRI’s case, however, ANCSA could easily have been an empty promise because others already had claimed so much of the suitable land within the Cook Inlet region, leaving CIRI with “mountaintops and glaciers.” If CIRI had accepted what was offered, it would be a shadow of the corporation it is today.
As a result of the Cook Inlet Land Exchange, CIRI was able to direct a portion of its selections to strategic and resource-rich lands in the region, including the Johnson mineral tract. Besides benefits to CIRI and its shareholders, several other Alaska Native corporations were able to grow and prosper as millions of dollars of resource revenues generated from CIRI lands were shared throughout Alaska.
Johnson Tract Project: A Promise Fulfilled
The negotiated land selection included interests in the two parcels that comprise the Johnson Tract as well as port and transportation easements through park lands for the purposes of development.
The 2019, lease with HighGold has a ten-year term plus a renewal option, and includes annual lease payments and work commitments until production is achieved. Upon completion of a feasibility study and a decision to proceed with the project, CIRI has the option of investing in the project as a partner in addition to receiving royalties on gold and base metals. Success in this project will benefit CIRI’s shareholders and village corporations as well as ANC regional corporations throughout Alaska as a result of the 7(i) and 7(j) revenue sharing provisions of ANCSA.
The Jonson Tract project exemplifies CIRI’s long-standing commitment to responsible resource development. At the same time, under terms of the Cook Inlet Land Exchange, it also represents fulfillment of the federal government’s promise to CIRI.