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The Alaska Miners Association

75 years of progress


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Alaska mining reaches 75 years

Selected historic mineral production from Alaska Gold 1,380 metric tons $9.94 billion • Silver 9,827 metric tons $2.99 billion • Copper 697,450 metric tons 245 Million USD • Lead 2,611,160 metric tons $2.74 billion • Zinc 12,512,908 metric tons $17.38 billion • Tin 3,990 metric tons $12.52 million • Platinum 20.88 metric tons $57.33 million • Antimony 5,535 metric tons $9.84 million

materials. In 1939, the challenges were physical This year marks the 75th anniversa— miners had to confront the physical ry of the Alaska Miners Association. environment with limited resources During the last 75 years, AMA has been and limited infrastructure. In 2014, advocating and promoting the respon- the challenges are mired in paperwork, sible development of Alaska’s mineral endless regulation and lawsuits. Minresources through both difficult and ing has so much to offer Alaska in the good times. way of good paying jobs, a strong tax AMA is a nonprofit membership base and resources that are needed, not organization established in 1939 to only by Alaska, but also by the world. represent the mining industry in AMA strives to make Alaska known Alaska. We are composed of more as a good place to do business, a place than 1,500 individual prospectors, where investment makes sense. geologists, engineers, vendors, suction We hope you’ll join us at our 24th dredge miners, small family mines, Biennial Mining Conference in Fairjunior mining companies and major banks from April 7-13 at the Carlson mining companies. Our members look Center to learn more about where for and produce gold, silver, platinum, Alaska’s mining industry has been and molybdenum, lead, zinc, copper, coal, where we’re going. Cheers to another limestone, sand and gravel, and other 75 years.

By Deantha Crockett

This special section is produced by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

dian and American prospectors moved north and discovered copper and gold in Prior to the arrival of Russian colonists, Southeast Alaska. In 1880, Joe Juneau materials such as high quality obsidian and Richard Harris discovered placer and chert cores were traded and used by gold near the present town site of Juneau Native Americans for the manufacture of and by 1886, hardrock mines throughout spear points and arrowheads. the “Juneau Gold Belt” were producing Later, copper from the Wrangell Moun- millions of tons of gold ores annually with tains region was acquired by several native a workforce of several thousand. Alaska’s groups and sold to the Russian-America capital was relocated from Sitka to Juneau. Company. Alaska’s first integrated power utility, Modest amounts of coal were mined by AEL&P, was formed to provide power for the Russians themselves on the Kenai Pen- the mines, which still produces power for insula. Alaska did not yield a significant Juneau. mineral endowment for Russian colonists. At the same time, gold prospectors venOne resource venture did work out for tured into the Yukon basin in the search the Russian America Company—that of for placer gold. Commercial quantities of mining ice from lakes near Kodiak and gold were first discovered in the Fortymile Sitka and shipping down blocks to the district in 1886; followed by discoveries in gold rush boom town of San Francisco for the Circle area (1893), at Sunrise on the food preservation applications. Because Kenai Peninsula (1894) and Unga Island the ice mining partnership was left out (1895) in the Alaska Peninsula region. of the original $7 million U.S. offer to But it was the 1896 discovery of rich gold purchase Alaska, an extra $200,000 was deposits in the Klondike district in Yukon, added to the transaction—thus the final Canada that captured the imagination of purchase price of $7,200,000. After the 1867 Alaska Purchase, CanaHISTORY » 3

By Tom Bundtzen

“100% Alaskan Women Owned and Operated” “Serving the Interior of Alaska since 1904”

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— From state of Alaska records and writer files

A history of mining


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• Mercury 1,555 metric tons $12.91 million • Chromium 39,051 metric tons $5.58 million • Barite 856,000 metric tons $11.41 million • Coal 74,652,934 metric tons $1.63 billion • Sand and Gravel 1,312,561,135 metric tons $3.32 billion • Rock 151,898,052 metric tons $929.80 million • Total $ 39.37 billion


Sunday, April 6, 2014

HISTORY Continued from 2 thousands of treasure seekers worldwide. The enthusiasm generated by this great rush is credited by some historians with ending the economic depression of 18921895, which had engulfed both Europe and North America. The Klondike strike triggered more than 30 back-to-back strikes throughout Alaska, most notably Nome (1898), Fairbanks (1902), Iditarod (1909) and finally culminating in Livengood (1914-1915). By 1906, the Fairbanks district was accounting for more than 40 percent of all the gold mined in Alaska — about 450,000 ounces gold that year — earning the name America’s Klondike. Gold developments were accompanied by other developments in the territory. Copper mining began in southeast Alaska and in Prince William Sound in 1900 and by 1905, and many small copper mines were active. In 1899, rich copper lodes were discovered in the Wrangell Mountains near Kennecott Glacier. By 1911, a 186-mile-long railroad, the Copper River and Northwestern, was built to haul copper ores and concentrates to Cordova. The railroad construction alone would employ more than 5,000 men, the first large scale transportation project in Alaska’s history.

ALASKA MINERS ASSOCIATION Even though pending federal legislation would greatly restrict mineral entry on much federal acreage in Alaska, the late 1970s marked a time of renewed optimism for Alaska’s mineral industry. Armed with modern scientific, predictive models on how mineral deposits formed, geophysical and geochemical surveys, and modern computer technologies, exploration firms would find a number of world class deposits of gold, copper, lead, zinc, silver and other metals. Kennecott Copper Corporation was formed to develop the mines. The company-owned Alaska Steamship Company was formed to haul supplies north and ship ores and concentrates south to market, but it also provided efficient maritime transportation for citizens traveling from the Pacific Northwest to the vast Territory. Early in the 20th Century, tin was being shipped from the Seward Peninsula, and marble, gypsum and garnet were being mined in Southeast Alaska. On the eve of World War I, mining industry employment peaked at about 9,000 in Alaska. Post war economic conditions would reduce mineral output. Copper and silver prices steadily declined and then crashed during the Great Depression. By the end of 1938, the Kennecott mines closed. However, new projects and economic conditions would stimulate the mining industry in other ways. Coal mining was initiated in the Sutton area near Palmer, where mines were developed to supply

fuel for the engines of the Alaska Railroad and also for U.S. Navy boilers. Many coal mines from this area would operate until about 1970. Redesign of the Alaska-Juneau gold mine in Juneau resulted in one of the largest and most efficient gold milling operations in the world. During the 1920s, an east coast-based firm, the United States Smelting and Refining Company (USSR&M), built a large gold dredging fleet in the Fairbanks district and deployed dredges in the Nome, and eventually, the Fortymile and Hogatza areas. In 1934, gold price increased from $20.67 to $35 per ounce and miners reinvested in Alaska. By 1940, more than 50 bucketline stacker gold dredges operated throughout the Alaska territory, and mainly on the strength of placer gold mining, industry personnel climbed from 4,000 in 1925 to about 7,500 in 1940. WWII and its aftermath would greatly

change the landscape of the Alaskan mineral industry. Federal Order L-208 shut down the gold mining industry for most of WWII and increased costs afterwards began to slowly erode the economic viability of an industry battling inflation in the post-war period. By the early 1950s, nearly all hardrock gold mines had closed; the dredge fleets would continue on but became inactive by the mid-1960s. Development of strategic minerals would help offset these declines. Platinum was mined at Goodnews Bay in southwestern Alaska from 1934 to 1980 — the country’s only source of this strategic metal until the 1980s. Tin, tungsten, chromium, antimony and mercury were mined for their strategic values and some production was subsidized by the U.S. government. Beginning in the 1940s, Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. (UCM) initiated coal shipments HISTORY » 4


Sunday, April 6, 2014

ALASKA MINERS ASSOCIATION ies designed to aid the industry. New markets for Pacific Rim coal resulted in opportunities for UCM’s Continued from 3 Healy coals. Discoveries at Red Dog in Northto Interior power plants along the northwestern Alaska and Greens Creek in ern Alaska Railroad corridor. This staSoutheast Alaska would result in the ble, low cost energy source is utilized to development of two of the most importthe present day. ant sources of lead, zinc, and silver in The period beginning in the midNorth America. Both of these mines 1950s and continuing to the mid-1970s were placed into production in 1989 and was a time of mineral industry stagnacontinue to ship mineral concentrates to tion for Alaska, with annual industry employment numbering less than 1,000. many offshore locations. These would be followed by the develWith infrastructure needs related to development of oil and gas on the Kenai opment of the Fort Knox gold mine near Peninsula and North Slope, large quan- Fairbanks (1996), the Pogo gold mine near Delta Junction (2004), and the tities of sand and gravel were quarried, Kensington mine near Juneau (2010). helping offset the decline. By 2012, mineral industry employment Even though pending federal legislahad rebounded from less than 1,000 in tion (1980 ANILCA Act) would greatly the 1970s to more than 5,000, according restrict mineral entry on much federal acreage in Alaska, the late 1970s marked to the latest economic surveys. From a time of renewed optimism for Alaska’s 1886 to 2012, minerals worth about 39.37 billion USD (at time of sale) have mineral industry. Armed with modern been produced from Alaska’s mines. scientific, predictive models on how The future of the industry will rely on mineral deposits formed, geophysical providing environmentally safe mining and geochemical surveys, and modern methods, stable commodity prices, praccomputer technologies, exploration firms would find a number of world class tical federal, state and municipal mindeposits of gold, copper, lead, zinc, silver eral policies, and on how native groups manage their mineral estates. and other metals. A key to mineral development will be University and state and federal overcoming hurdles such as the high research dollars would contribute costs of transportation and energy in through the publication of geologic and geophysical maps and engineering stud- remote areas.

Roger Burggraf goes from rock hound to mineral pioneer


By Amadna Bohman

Roger Burggraf pulled two gold nuggets out of his pocket. The seven ounce nugget was flat and about the size of a pancake. The smaller nugget resembled a chili pepper. The nuggets came out of Dome Creek, off the Elliott Highway, and Nolan Creek in the Brooks Range. Burggraf, 81, a long-time prospector and mining industry consultant, has seen a lot of nuggets in his more than 40 years in the mining industry. “I enjoy mining,” he said. “You always have hopes you are going to strike it rich. Finding it, that’s the challenge.” Burggraf liked rocks as a boy. When he was 12, a family friend returned from a trip to South America with a gift, a rock collection. “That really sparked my interest in minerals,” Burggraf said. Years later when Burggraf was a young man working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Mud Bay, near Haines, he befriended a prospector named Joe Ibach. Ibach discovered a vein of gold in the Glacier Bay area. “He’d go up there and chip off rocks and bring them home and crush them,” Burggraf said. Burggraf ’s life path took him in other directions, including the military and banking, until the 1970s. The trans-Alaska oil pipeline was being built. Burggraf resolved to get a job on the pipeline and save enough money to buy some land with mining claims. A few years later, he bought land on Ester Dome and expanded the Grant Mine. It was a small operation with a handful of employees, and Burggraf said the learning curve was high. The mine operated for

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a few years and then the federal government established new mining regulations. Burggraf said he had no choice but to sell to a larger company, Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. Burggraf became a mining industry consultant. He estimates the Grant Mine produced about 20,000 ounces of gold--most of it mined by Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. “The experiences I had there were unique and something I will always remember,” Burggraf said. Silverado sent Burggraf to other gold mines, including the Nolan Creek Mine in the Brooks Range. The company pulled a humongous 41-ounce nugget out of that mine in 1989, according to Burggraf. “Basically, it’s a labor of love,” Burggraf said. “The chase is the big thing.” Contact freelance writer Amanda Bohman at

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418 Illinois St., Fairbanks, Alaska

(907) 456-7600

everyday life,” Crockett’s email sign-off says. “As we communicate together, please be Deantha Crockett found a way to comthankful mining makes it possible.” Crockbine duel interests in geology and politics ett, 31, started out focussing on geology at as the executive director of the Alaska Min- the University of Alaska Anchorage. “But ers Association. after a few years, I became infatuated with Among her duties are to help influence politics, particularly American governvoters and policymakers to keep Alaska ment,” Crockett wrote in an email. Her mining friendly. To understand why Crock- office is based in Anchorage. ett does this work, you need only read the She switched her studies to political scimessage at the bottom of her emails. “This ence and has dedicated her career to fosteremail has been sent from a computer made ing CROCKETT » 5 of the mined minerals we depend on for

By Amanda Bohman

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Conference classes for the public presentations by experts in the industry and state and federal government will covThe Alaska Miners Association’s 24th er an array of subjects. The course will start Interior Conference to be held April 7-13 with industry terminology, continue with will feature five courses that should be of geology of mineral deposits, present the interest to the public. six large Alaska hard rock mines, present These courses are presented by industry a discussion of waste materials handling, experts and federal and state regulators. permitting of mines, environmental monThese courses are, in expected order of itoring, financial assurances, mine closure public interest, Mining 101, Placer Min(reclamation) and economics of the indusing 101, Mine Regulatory Requirements try. This course will be conducted on April — Environmental & Permitting, Mineral 7 with registration fees of $150. Processing, and Freshwater Habitat MitiPlacer Mining 101 is a one-day intensive gation. An additional two MSHA Refresher course to provide an orientation to many Annual Training courses will be presented. aspects of placer mining in Alaska. It will Course registration information can be include an overview of permitting, genfound at eral review of sampling and exploration, A number of conditions are common to mining examples, and processing systems, all courses. and best management practices for reclaConference registration is not required mation of placer mines. This course will be to register for the courses; pre-registration conducted April 8 with registration fees of is required. All the courses including the $150. MSHA Surface Refresher will be held in Mine Regulatory Requirements — the Carlson Center. An 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Environmental & Permitting is a course schedule will be observed. Lunch and designed to provide the small mine operasnacks are included in the registration tor with a practical understanding of perprice. Student registration prices are promitting needs and exposures for failure to vided for all non-MSHA classes. comply. The morning session will provide Mining 101 is a course intended to proan in-depth discussion of wetlands issues; vide the general public with an introduca panel discussion of presenters will be tion to Alaska’s mineral industry. Sixteen included. The afternoon session will proBy Alaska Miners Association

vide a review of regulatory requirements for ADEC and federal compliance, including fuels management and water quality and an in-depth presentation for operators on federal claims. Full day registration fees are $200; one-half day registration fees of $100 are provided for those interested in either half of the course, particularly the morning wetlands session. Minerals Processing is intended for operators, new plant hires, equipment manufacturers, utility personnel, mineral purchasers, chemical vendors, construction personnel, other support staff intending to gain a better understanding of mineral processing equipment, and to anyone else wishing to expand their knowledge of mineral processing. Participants will be exposed to principles and practices of operation including screening, classification, cleaning, gravity separation, chemical concentration, dewatering and thickening. Presentations will include video clips, photographs/schematics, circuits, mass balance calculations, procedures for measuring performance, other. This course will be conducted on April 7 and cost $200. Freshwater Habitat Mitigation for Mining Projects is designed to meet the needs of placer miners, mid- to large-scale

mine operators, and contractors associated with the mining industry as well as anyone interested in the topic. The course is divided into two modules: 1) Lakes & Streams, and 2) Wetlands; each module begins with a broad overview on important Interior Alaska issues. This course will provide an overview of assessment of impacts to wetlands and fish habitat from a mining perspective and will walk through mitigation project considerations needed for the permitting process. Experienced presenters from agency and the private sector will provide a practical, well-rounded guide to assessing and planning project mitigation in an upfront, manageable way without a lot of technical jargon. End of day groups will be with panel speakers and will each work an exercise in mitigation planning; this will be followed with a Q & A session. This course will be conducted on April 8 and cost $200. Two MSHA Annual Refresher training courses will be offered for those needing this mandatory update. The Surface Refresher will be conducted on April 12 at the Carlson Center and cost $25. The Underground Refresher will be conducted April 13 at the CMI conference room at 2615 20th Avenue off Peger Road and will cost $25.

CROCKETT Continued from 4

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foster communication between the offshore miners, Nome residents, local government and the onshore miners who have been there for years.” Under Crockett’s leadership, the miners association has evolved, adding staff and moving its offices. “It is a wonderful job, both challenging and rewarding, and I am very blessed to have it,” Crockett said. Contact freelance writer Amanda Bohman at

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resource development in Alaska. Crockett spent seven years as the projects coordinator for the Resource Development Council, a statewide business association involving oil and gas, mining, forest products, tourism and fisheries industries. She joined the miners association in 2012. “I was approached by some of the members in common to consider the position, and at first I balked at the idea,” Crockett wrote. “I didn’t complete that geology program, and I certainly wasn’t an engineer. What do I know about mining? I learned very fast that being with AMA is having nearly 2,000 experts on hand in the form of members.” At the Resource Development Council, Crockett focussed on mining and tourism. One of the projects she worked on was fighting a 2008 ballot initiative establishing stricter regulations on mining. The initiative failed. Since joining the miners association, Crockett has worked to support Nome’s offshore mining efforts, which have expanded in recent years. “It’s brought some struggles into the community as they don’t have adequate housing, boat storage in the harbor etc.,” Crockett wrote, “and we have been playing a role to


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Our everyday mineral use By Karen Matthias




Fax: 456-2021 3601 S. Cushman St. E-mail:


Fax: 563-7097 1150 E. Internat’l Apt. Rd. 800-478-2010 E-mail:


The valuable ores in Alaska have drawn people to the state for generations, but just what is in these ores that causes all the interest? To start, ore is rock that contains metals and minerals in sufficient quantities that they can be economically mined. Chances are you have used the products of mining dozens of times today without even thinking about it. Maybe you got a new app on your smartphone (gold, silver, platinum, copper, aluminum, rare earth elements), waxed your skis (molybdenum), turned on the lights in your house (copper) or ate cereal (fortified with zinc). Of course, most of what you eat and wear came to Alaska by ship (steel, copper, zinc, molybdenum) and was transported to Fairbanks by truck, rail or air (again, steel, copper, zinc, lead, molybdenum). Ideally, you didn’t need your car’s airbags (gold) or highway guard rails (zinc) and you weren’t treated in the hospital for burns (silver). Some of those metals (gold, silver, zinc, lead) are produced right here in Alaska and others (copper, molybdenum, rare earth elements) have substan-

tial deposits that could be developed into producing mines. Given our reliance on minerals and metals, it’s clear that we need mining. It’s equally clear that we need to do it right ... in a way that respects the environment and the health and safety of workers and neighbors. We are doing it right in Alaska, where our strict state and federal regulations ensure that the mines are developed, operated, and eventually closed in a responsible way. Mining also means good, well paying, year-round jobs, often in remote or rural communities where jobs can be scarce. So the next time you get in your car, take a moment to consider that it may contain Alaska minerals: the underside is galvanized (zinc) so it won’t rust, the battery (lead) makes it start, the rear defroster (silver) helps you see, and you need the brake shoes (gold) to stop. Consider also that 4,600 people in Alaska have good jobs in mining and that many state and federal officials are working on behalf of all Alaskans to ensure that mining is done right. Then enjoy your drive. Karen Matthias is the managing consultant for the Council of Alaska Producers.


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Eric Hill’s secret to success is to keep on learning mining By Amanda Bohman

It takes more than 600 skilled people to produce each bar of gold at the Fort Knox Gold Mine. No one knows that better than Eric Hill, the mine’s 43-year-old general manager. In 1997, one year after Fort Knox began operating, Hill started working at the largescale open pit mine located about 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks. Hill has served as a metallurgical technician, metallurgical engineer, mining short range planner, drill and blast supervisor, general foreman, superintendent, technical services manager and operations manager. Last year, Hill became general manager of the mine, which poured its six millionth ounce of gold on Dec. 18, 2013. The mine, owned by Canada-based Kinross Gold Corp., is expected to continue pouring bars of gold into 2020. “We would hope that we continue to add to that,” Hill said. “We are actively exploring.” Hill has spent his life gold mining, getting his start in 1989 working for an exploration drilling company. The work brought Hill to Nevada, California and New Mexico serving

Eric Hill as a driller’s helper on an exploration drill rig, extracting rock from underground so it could be evaluated for traces of gold. His exploration work helped one mine, the Hog Ranch Mine in Nevada, expand. Hill was eventually hired in the process HILL » 9

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Mining needs a strong workforce gic plan to recruit, train and retain an Alaska workforce to meet this demand. With large equipment, remote locaNearly everywhere you turn recently tions and complex operations, the need in the world of business, education and will be for a workforce with good techpolitics you hear leaders talk about nical skills as well as the “soft skills” workforce development. and behaviors that make for good They use terms like “career pathemployees. ways,” “STEM” — short for Science, The challenge for the HR committee Technology, Engineering & Math — is to assure that Alaskans are aware of P-Tech (process technology), and “prithe job opportunities and the educaority occupations.” tional pathways that will get them qualThe focus behind all of this talk is ified for the jobs. assuring we have a skilled work force The HR Committee is working on to meet the demands of employers and “out-reach” programs to provide inforto provide meaningful jobs for future mation to schools, communities and workers. educators so that Alaskans can prepare With several new mines planning for these careers. to start production in the next 10-15 The committee is also working with years along with the steady operations the university, regional training centers of the state’s six operating mines, an and other training providers to assure important task for the mining industry the appropriate training is available is to be sure that there is a skilled work- and accessible, no matter what part of force available for the nearly doubled the state the mine is located in. demand. Many of the jobs in the industry will A committee of Human Resource and require skills and attitudes that are Workforce Development specialists has already present in the regions, such as come together under the Alaska Miners heavy equipment operations. Association and is building a strateSome require short-term training on

By Josie Hickel and Dave Rees AMA HR/WFD COMMITTEE

Frontier Supply Company welcomes all the AMA Conference participants and vendors who have traveled to attend the 24th Fairbanks Biennial Conference.

With several new mines planning to start production in the next 10-15 years along with the steady operations of the state’s six operating mines, an important task for the mining industry is to be sure that there is a skilled workforce available for the nearly doubled demand. A committee of Human Resource and Workforce Development specialists has come together under the Alaska Miners Association and is building a strategic plan to recruit, train and retain an Alaska workforce to meet this demand. CURT FREEMAN PHOTO

We hope the visit to the Last Frontier is memorable and everlasting!

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mining specific jobs such as mine operators and drillers, and some like engineers or geologists require longer-term college-based preparation. The real challenge for the committee is to help define the strategy for having a workforce with the right skills at the time the industry needs them, whether it is replacement of attrition from current mines or just-in-time for the new mine operations. Mining jobs accommodate local hir-

ing and provide good long term career options. They offer good wages and benefits, rotational schedules, training, and opportunities for advancement all in a very fun and interesting industry. If you are interested in more information about how you or your company can get involved, contact Alicia Amberg with the Alaska Miners Association for more information.


Sunday, April 6, 2014


A look at the Pebble Mine project By Mike Heatwole

The Pebble Deposit, located on state of Alaska land in Southwest Alaska, is a world class discovery of copper, gold and molybdenum. The Pebble Partnership was formed in 2007 to advance the project into permitting, construction and operation. With the announcement in fall 2013 that Anglo American was withdrawing from the partnership, Northern Dynasty Minerals is the sole owner of the partnership. Plans in 2014 are focused on securing a new investor for the project and preparing for permit applications to advance the project. Through 2013, extensive work has been accomplished at Pebble including: a 10-year, $150 million-dollar investment in environmental and socioeconomic studies to support project design and permitting; advanced engineering design for mine site facilities and project infrastructure; and investment in workforce and business development, stakeholder outreach and community programs. Two recent developments warrant specific focus: the Environmental Protection Agency’s Bristol Bay Assessment and subsequent 404 process under the Clean Water Act; and, an economic impact study prepared for the Pebble Partnership by IHS Global Insights, a renowned interna-

tional economic analysis and forecasting firm. In 2010, the EPA was petitioned by some tribal groups and environmental organizations to pre-emptively veto the Pebble Project using section 404c of the Clean Water Act. On Feb. 28, the EPA announced it was beginning an administrative process to consider taking pre-emptive

HILL Continued from 7

mine facilities include the open pit mine, mill, administrative facilities, tailings storage facility, water storage reservoir and the Walter Creek Heap Leach facility. Hill’s experience with both the mining and the processing sides of the business is unique. “Overall, I have had many opportunities in the industry as well as Fort Knox to get experience with many of the facets of the gold industry,” Hill said. “The current role of general manager is very rewarding as it is has involvement with all aspects of the operation while also reaching out into the community and industry.” Contact freelance writer Amanda Bohman at

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department at the Sleeper Mine in northern Nevada. There he worked as a mill operator, refinery operator and heap leach operator, using chemicals to extract gold from ore. The Twin Creeks Mine, also in Nevada, came next. Hill worked as a metallurgical technician, examining and testing rock samples. “This job gave me the skill set to land a job at Fort Knox in the same role,” Hill said. For Knox is a massive operation, open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Major

action under section 404 of the Clean Water Act — something the agency has never attempted in its 42-year history for a resource development project such as Pebble prior to a NEPA application. PLP maintains that the objective, science based NEPA process is the appropriate place to evaluate the merits and environmental consider-

ka and the U.S. agree with this position. More information about this federal overreach is available at the PLP website: In May 2013, PLP released “The Economic and Employment Contributions of a Conceptual Pebble Mine to the Alaska and United States Economies” by IHS Global Insights. The report indicates development of the Pebble Mine could produce thousands of jobs, provide billions to the state of Alaska including a contribution to the state’s Permanent Fund, and generate significant economic activity in Alaska. The report determined that Pebble development could contribute $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion annually to the state’s economy. Pebble jobs could provide year-round employment in Southwest Alaska where jobs are few, the cost of living is high, the population is in PEBBLE MINE PHOTO decline and schools are closing. PLP believes responsible ations for Pebble. development of the mineral The EPA’s Bristol Bay resource at Pebble could help Assessment is a rushed and change lives for the better in flawed document and as such should not be used as the basis the region. Pebble is an asset for the for any type of agency decision people of Alaska on state land making — especially a potenopen to mineral development. tially far-reaching, precedent As such, it should be thorsetting action. oughly evaluated through the The state of Alaska, electstate and federal environmened leaders, and business and trade associations across Alas- tal permitting process.


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Why the permitting process matters By Joe Balash

Alaska coal is delivered from Usibelli Mine. USIBELLI MINE Joe Balash is commissioner of the Alaska ers — including the EPA — should take tor and the regulatory agencies. Audit pride in this system and work to sustain Department of Natural Resources. results are factored into new permit conditions and updated financial assur- its credibility with the public. ances. A monitoring plan that looks at air and water quality and fish and wildlife populations during operation is required and a minimum of 30 years of Full Line Steel and Aluminum Distributor post-closure monitoring must be conSpecializing in wear plate ducted. The DNR periodically seeks public input on ways to improve our permitting statutes and regulations. We began such an effort in 2011, when we and other state resource agencies launched an initiative to make the permitting process more timely and efficient for individual Alaskans and businesses. This initiative has resulted in the passage of several bills to modernize the DNR’s statutes, Since 1982 as well as a 53 percent reduction in the Division of Mining, Land & Water’s backlog of applications for permits, easements, leases, and other authorizations. The Parnell administration is gravely concerned about ongoing efforts to undermine the state-federal permitting process that has worked well in Alaska. In particular, the state is vigorously challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to assert its rarely used “veto power” to block any applicant from seeking permits to mine on state lands in the Bristol Bay region. We believe this unprecedented action will have a chilling effect on public and private-sector projects, not just in Alaska, but across the nation. A robust permitting system has enabled the development of responsible mines throughout Alaska. All stakehold-

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Alaskans benefit every day from a regulatory system that protects the environment and allows economic activity that supports our communities. The mining industry is a significant case in point. The Usibelli Coal Mine opened in 1943. Modern hardrock mining in Alaska began in 1989 with the opening of the Red Dog and Greens Creek mines. The Fort Knox, Pogo and Kensington gold mines opened between 1996 and 2010. All six mines continue to generate enormous socio-economic benefits for local communities while protecting the environment. There is no single permit to mine in Alaska. Rather, mine applicants must secure a mixture of project-specific state, federal and local permits. Because of this complexity, the state developed the Large Mine Permitting Team, coordinated by the DNR’s Office of Project Management and Permitting. The LMPT is composed of experts from state agencies who meet regularly to review regulatory issues for proposed and operating mines. The team ensures that permit applications receive a thorough and timely review by experienced engineers, scientists and permitting staff. It coordinates the state’s permitting requirements for large projects with federal requirements, which typically involve development of an Environmental Impact Statement. Protection of water quality and fish habitat is a critical aspect of the state’s permitting process for mining. The Department of Fish and Game is in charge of issuing permits for activities proposed in water bodies with fish, and works with DNR to evaluate water rights applications and authorizations for temporary water use. The Department of Environmental Conservation establishes and maintains water quality standards that are typically more stringent than in other states. The DEC’s standards ensure that permitted projects are developed and operated in a way that protects our aquatic resources. The public has multiple opportunities to comment before state and federal agencies issue their decisions. Public comments can and do influence the final design of a mine. Mines must have an approved Reclamation and Closure Plan and post financial assurances before construction can start. During operation, audits by third-party environmental experts are required every five years to evaluate the performance of both the mine opera-


Sunday, April 6, 2014


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Sunday, April 6, 2014


The placer mining perspective By Sheldon Maier FORTYMILE MINING DISTRICT

This year, Alaska Miners Association will celebrate 75 years of representing miners in our great state. Placer mining, however, has been around much longer. Placer gold mining in Alaska began in the 1800s when Russian miners first discovered deposits on the Kenai Peninsula. However, no gold production occurred at the time. It wasn’t until 1870, when placer miners in Southeast, through dogged determination and intense exploration efforts, discovered vast deposits of ore, launching Alaska’s rich mining tradition. While Fairbanks, Juneau and Nome are responsible for most of Alaska’s historical and current gold production, gold mining operations are found across much of Alaska. Today, there are an estimated 400500 placer mines throughout the state. Placer deposits are concentrations of heavy minerals that form when mineral laden soils are washed, by weather or

flooding, down slope into streams over time. The minerals settle in areas where the river current stalls and can no longer suspend the minerals. Placer mining is a collection of mining methods that use water to separate valuable ore from the surrounding sediment. Placer mining literally began as a flash in the pan, flecks of gold awash in a slurry of sediment, recovered by miners using a skilled hand with only a pan the size of a dinner plate and river water. Many mining operations in Alaska today are still small family operations. I mine in the Fortymile District with my wife and three children. The lessons my kids have learned from spending time on our mine site are invaluable. Prospecting and mining in remote locations is a way of life for us. In fact, many rural communities are built around and depend upon placer mines. The profits we make in Alaska stay in Alaska’s economy. We understand the importance of supporting small and local businesses, because we are small and local businesses.

The Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation (AMHF) was established in 1997 to honor Alaska’s Mining Pioneers. Since then about 100 men and women have been inducted.


The AMHF Museum is located at 825 1st Avenue in downtown Fairbanks, also known as the Odd Fellow’ s Hall, it is on the National Historic Register.


• • • •


The Museum will open its doors from April 7-11 from 11AM-5PM, during the Alaska Miners Association Spring Mining Conference. On April 8, 2014, we will be inducting the following into the organization: Fish creek-Fairbanks Miner Wise Mike Stepovich Journalist and Mining Activist Helen Van Campen Russian Mining Engineer Peter P. Doroshin The Induction will take place at the museum at 825 1st Avenue beginning at 7:00 p.m. on April 8. The public is invited. There will be no charge. Our Normal Hours will begin May 27th and continue through the summer.

Paystreak Newsletters that provide biographic summaries of the pioneers. Biographies with plaques and numerous photos depicting Alaska’ s mining history. Movie clips and other digital media are featured at the AMHF museum Memorabilia are for sale; such as coffee cups and T-shirts

Since its start, there have been many technological advances in placer mining. Today, miners process much larger quantities of ore-rich material using methods like dredging and pit-mining. As with the large mining operations, placer mining requires multiple permit applications, strict review, federal and state government regulation, and permitting for any exploration, transport of equipment, mining camp construction, or to mine locatable minerals and conduct any reclamation operations. Alaska Miners Association works to keep family mines in business while maintaining high environmental standards for our state. Miners like myself are experiencing a stifling increase in federal regulation. We understand the need to operate responsibly and safely, and believe that regulation, within reason, is appropriate. However, regulations set arbitrarily

without scientific reason and no proof that they better the environment, are not reasonable, and that is what seems to be happening lately. Regulations that do not reflect the reality of Alaska conditions and add unnecessary layers of bureaucracy do nothing but burden the small miner and other resource developers in Alaska. We’re proud to represent the “Family Farm of the North.” Mining helped build our state, and we hope to see it grow in the future. Placer mining continues to be a robust and key industry, providing hundreds of jobs, feeding ongoing exploration efforts and aiding population and community growth across the state. Ensuring the necessity of new regulations to prevent an unnecessary burden, especially shouldered by small businesses, is paramount. Sheldon Maier is a miner in the Fortymile district where he lives with his family.

Livengood Gold Project’s feasibility study confirms the large well-proven resource and ability to manage the environmental impacts. At over 15 million ounces of gold, the deposit is one of the world’s largest, located in an area designated for mining.


Looking forward, our plans are to pursue opportunities identified in the feasibility study for potential cost reductions and project improvements. We will advance the project toward permitting by continuing baseline environmental studies, support the State of Alaska’s efforts to bring down energy costs, and further our discussions with potential strategic alliance partners. Livengood’s experienced leadership team continues its dedication to making this project a productive Alaska gold mine for decades to come.


10502830 4-6-14


Today, there are an estimated 400-500 placer mines throughout the state. Placer deposits are concentrations of heavy minerals that form when mineral laden soils are washed, by weather or flooding, down slope into streams over time. The minerals settle in areas where the river current stalls and can no longer suspend the minerals. Placer mining is a collection of mining methods that use water to separate valuable ore from the sediment. Placer mining began as a flash in the pan, flecks of gold awash in a slurry of sediment, recovered by miners using a skilled hand with only a pan the size of a dinner plate and river water.


Sunday, April 6, 2014



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Fort Knox Stewardship in Action

The way we see things, stewardship extends well beyond protecting land and water. It’s also about taking care of our people. That’s why we invest in advanced training, safety, and modern mining technology. The return? We have the best people in the industry working for us. Fort Knox places high value in community stewardship. We buy locally, hire locally and we’re active in charitable giving, and our people volunteer in many civic and community groups. And, as far as protecting the land and water, our record stands on its own. At Fort Knox, responsible stewardship is part of how we do business every day.

Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc. A Kinross company


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Reclamation working at True North Mine By Jennifer Pyecha

The True North Mine, owned by Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc. is approximately 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks located within the Chatanika River watershed. Mining operations commenced at the end of January 2001 and the first blast occurred in February 2001. The ore was hauled to the Fort Knox Mine where it was processed. During the four years of operations, 530,000 ounces of gold was produced with 25 million tons of waste ore. In 2009, FGMI made the decision to permanently close True North. Before mining, a Reclamation and Closure Plan and Financial Assurance (FA) must be submitted to and approved by Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The True North Mine Reclamation and Closure Plan (R&C) is designed to return land disturbed by mining operations to a stabilized and near-natural condition, ensure the long-term protection of land and water resources, minimize or eliminate long-term management requirements and meet state and federal regulatory requirements. The plan includes a description of the existing site condition, reclamation

The former True North Mine is returning to nature. COURTESY TRUE NORTH schedule, general reclamation procedures and the methods for achieving the final closer requirements and objectives. The FA bond calculation is based on the R&C plan

2014 Mining Conference


the posted bond amount is $3.1 million. Between 2005 and 2012, the 480 acres disturbed by mining activities have been graded, scarified and seeded. To date, 200 tons of fertilizer has been broadcasted over the disturbed area and growth media has been placed on 140 acres. Trails that were removed because of mining activities have been reestablished. In 2012, the state confirmed True North was reclaimed in accordance with the R&C Plan. Simply put, we did what we said we were going to do. We are now in the post-closure phase. During this phase, we ensure and verify that miti-

gation efforts used to address environmental disturbances are working. Throughout the reclamation process, our commitment to environmental stewardship guides us in our environmental performance. In addition to meeting regulatory requirements, we spread growth media on the pit floors, planted seedlings and broadcasted fertilizer in years subsequent to the initial application. The True North Mine will be in the post-closure phase until it has been demonstrated the land is stable and water quality standards have been maintained.

Our miners and the mining industry

21505751 4-6-14Mining

Bob Loeffler of the University of Alaska Anchorage teaches mining techniques in class.


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Donlin project moving forward Napaimute, Akiak, Aniak and the Knik Tribal Council. The Donlin Gold project EIS process will take years to complete and involves many steps. The process begins with scoping, during which the public is invited to comment on the proposed project and voice concerns or provide other insights. The Donlin Gold scoping period was completed by the agencies last year between January and March. Scoping is followed by the development of a draft EIS document, which

includes a scientific review by the cooperating agencies of project alternatives and potential impacts. Public and agency comments on the draft EIS will be collected and considered in the final EIS. The process is completed with a Record of Decision. For updates and more information about the Donlin Gold project please visit For information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ EIS for the Donlin Gold project please visit



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through the Draft Environmental Impact Statement phase of the NationThe Donlin Gold project is an undeal Environmental Policy Act environveloped gold deposit located in the his- mental review process. toric Kuskokwim Gold Belt of Western An EIS is a decision-making process Alaska. that analyzes and presents the potenExtensive exploration and research tial effects of a proposed major federal estimates the deposit to be 33.8 million action. In the case of the Donlin Gold ounces. This project is located on Calis- project, the proposed federal action ta Corporation and Kuskokwim Corpo- is the issuance of a permit by the U.S. ration lands, in the hills approximately Army Corps of Engineers. The NEPA 10 miles north of the village of Crooked environmental review process requires Creek. public involvement, which gives the Should the mine be developed, it is public opportunities to comment on the estimated to have a 27-plus year life, proposed project and the results of the producing approximately 1.1 million environmental review. USACE is the ounces of gold annually. Additionally, lead agency in the preparation of the thousands of jobs could be created; EIS. it is estimated that 3,000 jobs could They are working with cooperating be available during the construction agencies to evaluate plans and permits phase, while during mine operation, and will present alternatives for the 1,400 jobs might be created, depending project. Cooperating agencies include: on production levels. Furthermore, the Federal: Environmental Protection project will act as an economic engine; Agency, Bureau of Land Management, by having a reliable source of income, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and employees will be able to put more Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safemoney back into the local economy. ty Administration; After 16 years of conducting environState of Alaska: Department of Natumental baseline studies in the Yukon ral Resources, Department of EnvironKuskokwim region, Donlin Gold start- mental Conservation and the Departed the permitting process for the projment of Fish and Game; ect in 2012. Tribal: Native Villages of Crooked The Donlin Gold project is moving Creek, Chuathbaluk, Lower Kaslkag,

By Kurt Parkan


Sunday, April 6, 2014


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Pogo’s Chris Kennedy takes on the future of the mining industry By Julie Herrmann

Pogo Mine General Manager Chris Kennedy started out at the bottom of the heap — shoveling dirt. Fresh out of high school in Arizona, Kennedy helped his parents move to Silverton, Colo., where he found a mining job. “I was going to go back to go to college in Scottsdale, and I took a summer job at a crushing plant for a mine,” Kennedy said. “It was just a summer job to get some money to go back to school, and I’ve been trying to go back to school ever since.” While working in Arizona, the Fort Knox mine owners were in the planning stage and visited the mill where Kennedy worked. “They asked if I ever got bored and wanted to come to Alaska, they would entertain the idea of giving me a job,” Kennedy said. A year later, in 1995, he gave Fort Knox a call and moved to Alaska to take a position as the maintenance superintendent. He left Fort Knox for Greens Creek in 2001 before coming to work at Pogo in 2005.

Chris Kennedy He started out as the maintenance manager and moved from there to the health, safety and environmental manager before becoming the general manager in 2011. “My job is to make sure that we KENNEDY » 23




J O N A T H A N T. , mining operations

One thing that you’ll notice about Jonathan, he’s always got a smile on his face. And the great thing about smiles – they’re contagious. Whether it’s on the job, at home, or out among their Alaskan neighbors, you’ll find that Pogo employees tend to be a happy crew. Maybe it’s knowing that they work for a company that values their personal safety and employs strong measures to safeguard the environment. Or maybe they’re smiling because their company invests over $100 million each year in the local economy and provides a good living for 320 employees and their families. Whatever the reason, at Pogo, we’re committed to going the extra smile.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


The need for good stewardship tion and Recovery Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, Toxic Today’s miners, unlike miners from the Substances Control Act and the Wild and Gold Rush days, recognize the need for Scenic Rivers Act to name a few. environmental stewardship to operate Congress enacted legislation has a successful mine. From conception to occurred since the early 1900s with the closure, a long list of permitting and envi- signature of An Act for the Preservation ronmental regulations must be complied of American Antiquities by President with for a mining company to be sustain- Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. This able. Antiquities Act was a major influence to Federal environmental laws and regula- the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands tions have affected the way Alaska mines Conservation Act. are permitted and operated. Federal and Alaska environmental This ever-evolving governance of the regulations are based upon legislation mining industry has been, and continues and are managed by appropriate agento be, influenced by the Antiquities Act, cies. The agencies have an active role in Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Compre- the permitting, operation and closure hensive Environmental Response, Comof today’s mines, whether they are placpensation and Liability Act, Emergency er, hard-rock open pit or underground Planning and Community Right-to-Know mines. Act, Endangered Species Act, Migratory Federal agency involvement often Bird Treaty Act, National Environmental includes the US Environmental ProtecPolicy Act, National Historic Preservation tion Agency, U.S. Army Corps of EngiAct, National Forest Management Act, neers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oil Pollution Act, Resource ConservaBureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest

By Mark Huffington

Service and the National Park Service. Depending on the location and type of mine, mining companies may be required to comply with federal permitting and regulatory requirements for water discharges, waste management, wetlands, rivers and harbors, historical and cultural resources, land use, threatened and endangered species, essential fish habitat, bald eagle protection and migratory bird protection. Alaska agencies are involved in the permitting process and oversite of mining projects. The Department of Natural Resources is responsible for approving and issuing plan of operation permits, reclamation and bonding, water rights, fish habitat and fishway permits, tideland leases, dam safety certifications, cultural resources surveys, monitoring plans and coastal zone consistency determinations. The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for approving and issuing waste management permits

and bonding, wastewater and stormwater permits, air quality permits and certification of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits. Not only are the agencies involved in mining, private stakeholders provide a non-written “social license” for the mine to operate, and one that is necessary for mining to be sustainable within the community it is located. Private stakeholder involvement has influenced the mining community. Without public involvement and the mining company’s awareness of that social license to operate, that license may never be issued. Mining and protection of the environment has evolved through the years. Without interaction and cooperation between mines, regulatory agencies and private stakeholders, mining’s future would struggle to provide the natural resources the world demands. Mark Huffington is the Environmental Superintendent for Kinross Fort Knox.

Mineral exploration sees a slow growth By Curt Freeman

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Although some sectors of the U.S. economy enjoyed progressively better market conditions over the course of 2013, Alaska’s mineral exploration sector was not one of them. The general flight of risk capital to more prospective markets, such as the oil and gas sector, coupled with flat or declining commodities prices, resulted in a year of significant cut backs by Alaska mineral explorers. While several of the more advanced exploration projects received strong budgets and generated impressive results, the majority of Alaska’s exploration projects remained idle or received only maintenance level exploration funding during 2013. A total of 67 hard rock exploration permits were active in Alaska in 2013, down from 84 in 2012. Of the 67 projects with permits, only 21 projects

reported expenditures in excess of $100,000 during the year and of those 21 projects, the largest five projects by expenditures, Donlin, Pebble, Bornite, Tetlin and Livengood, accounted for almost 50 percent of statewide exploration expenditures in 2013. Although total exploration expenditures are still being compiled, estimates indicate 2013 exploration spending will fall in the $200 million to $250 million range, well shy of the $335 million spent on exploration in Alaska in 2012 and far below the record high spending of $365 million in 2011. The primary commodities of interest last year were gold and copper although other commodities under exploration included lead, zinc, silver, nickel, iron, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, graphite and coal. The outlook for Alaska mineral GROWTH » 21

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Sunday, April 6, 2014



Inside Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. a variety of bulldozers, various large dump trucks and shovels/loaders and Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. is a explosives conducting caste blasting fourth-generation family-owned operations. business and the only operating coal The Bucyrus Erie 1300W walking mine in Alaska. Joe Usibelli Jr. is the dragline, affectionately named “Ace In president and the third generation to The Hole,” is Alaska’s largest mobile lead the company following his father, land machine and removes overburden Joe Usibelli, and grandfather, Emil on top of the coal seams. The dragline Usibelli. bucket moves 33 cubic yards of mateUsibelli Coal Mine was founded rial. The crew consists of two operain 1943 with a one-year contract to tors that rotate positions every hour. supply 10,000 tons of coal per year to The dragline is electrically powered by Ladd Air Field (now Fort Wainwright). a large cable connected to the utility Emil began operations with a small power system. bulldozer and a converted logging Caterpillar 785 haul trucks transport truck. 150 tons of coal or overburden. The UCM produces approximately 2 mil- exhaust system runs hot air through lion tons of sub-bituminous coal per the bed to keep it heated in the winter year. UCM’s surface mineable reserve in order to prevent freezing of material on current leased lands is estimated to the bed. to be approximately 700 million tons. Usibelli employs 120 full-time workThe coal is considered ultra-low sulfur ers. More than one third of the workcontent, making it one of the cleanforce is made up of second-, third- or est-burning coals in the world. fourth-generation family members. Coal is transported to six InteriThe mine operates year round; in fact, or Alaska electric power generation the customers’ demands are greater plants — including five cogeneration during the cold and dark months of plants: Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air winter. Force Base, Clear Air Force Station, The environment is a high priority. Aurora Energy — a wholesale supplier Because the mine is the family’s backof electricity and provider of district yard, it was no surprise that in 1970, heat in Fairbanks — and the Universix years before federal law required, sity of Alaska’s power plant. A mine UCM pioneered a successful land recmouth plant — Healy No. 1, operated lamation program. The ultimate goal by Golden Valley Electric Association, of restoration is to establish a natural is located adjacent to the mine site and landscape on previously mined land. coal is delivered directly from the pit Usibelli Coal Mine’s commitment to to the plant. provide a quality product, on schedule, Through the years, Usibelli Coal at a reasonable price utilizing innovaMine has exported coal to Pacific rim tive technology and dedication to envidestinations including Chile, South ronmental excellence has earned the Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan and Rus- mine a position of leadership in Alaska sia. and in the U.S. coal industry. The primary pieces of equipment Bill Brophy is vice president of customer relautilized to remove overburden are the tions and executive director of The Usibellli Bucyrus Erie 1300W walking dragline, Foundation.

By Bill Brophy

Alan Renshaw keeps Usibelli in touch with a family feeling said. “Lots of places, people jump from mine to mine to mine, but our average Usibelli Coal Mine General Manager employee is here for 12 or 13 years.” Alan Renshaw is a lifelong Alaskan who Renshaw started out in engineering has worked for Usibelli for more than where he helped design mines and two decades. He was born and raised in worked with blasting. “Pretty much all Anchorage, and attended the University the classic stuff you’d think of,” Renshaw of Alaska Fairbanks in pursuit of an engi- said. neering degree. “I took a lot of different He then moved to a position where classes, I was kind of trying to double he acquired permitting and ensured major in mining and engineering and civ- the mine followed regulations. He then il engineering,” Renshaw said. moved to a senior engineering role where While at UAF, he did summer internhe ran the engineering department for ships, one of which involved surveying ten years. He became the chief engineer and building a road between mines. He and then Vice President of Engineering. then became a registered land surveyor “Once I was a VP level of engineering, before graduating from UAF in 1989. when the general manager was gone, I’d He joined Usibelli in 1990 and worked cover for him,” Renshaw said. “I was kind his way up the ladder. “The way Usibelli RENSHAW » 23 works, it’s pretty home grown,” Renshaw

By Julie Herrmann

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GROWTH Continued from 20 exploration in 2014 has improved marginally during the first quarter of the year, thanks in part to improved market confidence which has spurred rising equity price and to generally stabilized or improved metals prices. Despite these improvements, mineral exploration in Alaska in 2014 is expected to remain lethargic, with the

more advanced projects continuing to garner the lion’s share of exploration spending. Avalon Development Corp. is a Fairbanks-based mineral exploration consulting firm with more than 25 years of Alaska metallic mineral exploration experience. Learn more about Avalon Development at www.avalonalaska. com. Curt Freeman is president of the Avalon Development Corp.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Greens Creek seen as environmental leader

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ground drilling and inspection of the ore body. Full scale mine development Greens Creek is considered by many to began in 1987 and full production was be the environmental role model for the reached early in 1989. Production was mine of the 21st Century. temporarily halted in 1993 due to low Located 18 miles south of Juneau on metal prices but re-opened in July 1997. northern Admiralty Island, the mine Since re-opening the mine has steadily operates within strict standards of envi- increased its productive capacity from an ronmental compliance. Working closely initial production rate of 1,320 tons per with community leaders, regulatory day to more than 2,200 tons per day in agencies and environmental groups, 2010. Greens Creek has developed a general Greens Creek is a polymetallic (zinc, plan of operations incorporating many lead, silver and gold) underground stewardship activities recognized as best mining operation with a surface concenpractice. All the activities undertaken at trator or mill, dry stack tailings storage the operation take into account sustain- facility, man camp and deepwater port. ability, with the goal of leaving Admiralty The mine and the mill are about eight Island as beautiful as it was before the miles up the Greens Creek Valley and the mine existed. camp is located at Hawk Inlet. The mine Mineralized outcrops near Greens is expected to operate until approximateCreek were first sighted by geologists in ly 2023 based upon 7.79 million metric early 1975 and preliminary core drilling tons of reserves and excellent explorafollowed soon after. tion potential. In 2013, Greens Creek Between 1978 and 1980 an exploratory tunnel was driven to allow underGREENS CREEK » 23

By Mike Satre

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Sunday, April 6, 2014



Fort Knox an active community partner major exploration activity and by 1996, the mine produced its “Thar’s gold in them thar first gold ounces. hills.” The mine encompasses 12.5 The Fort Knox area actively square miles with its open pit, has been explored for gold heap leach facility, mill, wetplacer deposits since 1902. lands and freshwater reservoir. Historically, the surrounding Because of the hard work Fairbanks Mining district has of 630 employees who reside produced in excess of 8 million in Interior Alaska, the mine ounces of gold, predominantly poured a record 428,822 ouncfrom placer deposits, and plac- es in 2013 and became Alaska’s er mining operations continue largest gold producer for the to this day. year. As the placer miners discovDec. 18, 2013, saw a signifiered and mined gold in the cant milestone when the mine Fish Creek valley, so is Kinross poured its 6 millionth ounce of Gold with its hard rock open gold just three years from its 5 pit gold mine. millionth ounce in 2011. The Fort Knox Mine, AlasSince 1996, Fort Knox mined ka’s largest open-pit gold mine, 730 million tons of rock from is located 25 miles northeast its open pit and processed 330 of Fairbanks near the Steese million tons of gold-bearing Highway’s Cleary Summit. ore in its mill and heap leach Between 1989 and 1992, the facilities. area known as Fort Knox saw The average production

By Mark Huffington

KENNEDY Continued from 19 function safely, environmentally safely and within budget and keep the place running,” Kennedy said. “I like the fact that I can make the changes that I think need to be changed. I like helping people and making Pogo a place where people want to come to work, not have to come to work.” One of the things Kennedy likes the most about his job, helping people, is also one of the biggest challenges. Kennedy said 40 to 45 percent of the people who work for Pogo live outside of Alaska. The rest live across the state from Juneau, the Kenai area and Anchorage all the way up to Fairbanks. “How do you make the schedules

GREENS CREEK Continued from 22 produced 7.44 million ounces of silver, 57,457 ounces of gold, 57,600 tons of zinc and 20,100 tons of lead. The Hecla Greens Creek Mine is the largest private employ-

mined from the pit for 2013 was 173,000 tons per day. To achieve these production numbers, the mine uses a massive fleet of heavy equipment that includes three 35-cubicyard hydraulic shovels, three 23-cubic-yard loaders, 38 haul trucks each capable of moving up to 240 tons of ore, seven blast-hole drills, and several pieces of large support equipment including track dozers, motor graders, water trucks, loaders and backhoes. This equipment consumes a daily average of 33,000 gallons of diesel fuel. None of this is possible without a dedication to safety. Many great safety accomplishments were achieved in 2013. The administration group (i.e., warehouse, safety, environmental, accounting, human resources, engineering, sur-

friendly enough to work for them with flights? How do you make sure the schedules work daily from shift to shift? Those are always challenging.” In the future, Kennedy expects that mining will get tougher. “I think it’s going to be more and more difficult because of environmental constraints,” Kennedy said. “I think the people will be there as long as we have training programs, but I think the biggest impact is going to be environmental constraints. Not that they’re bad, they’re just constraints.” Kennedy lives in Fairbanks and enjoys golfing, sailing and camping with his family in his free time. He and his wife have six children, of which all but one are grown, and eight grandchildren. “I’m at the age where in 10 years, I should be able to retire,” Kennedy said. “But I don’t know if I’ll want to. Ask me in 10 years.”

er in the Juneau area and as such plays an important role in helping to diversify the local economy. The mine employs more than 400 people and its commitment to local hire in the region is exemplified by its funding of the Pathways to Mining Careers program at the University of Alaska Southeast. This

veying, geology, exploration) has not had a loss time incident since April 2005 and has worked four years without a reportable incident. Mill maintenance has not had a loss time incident since July 2003. Mill operations has worked one year without a reportable incident. Mobile Equipment Maintenance has not had a loss time incident since December 2006. Mine operations achieved one year without a loss time incident. Keeping safety at the forefront of everything done at Fort Knox is the first and most important priority. Fort Knox is a proud Fairbanks community member and provides support and sponsorship to many local organizations, schools and events with its heart of gold. Those receiving Fort Knox

support through the years include the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks Go Red for Events, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, 2014 Arctic Winter Games, local youth organizations, and the summer’s Golden Days parade and events to name a few. Fort Knox employees also have hearts of gold by generously donating thousands of hours of their own time and money to local organizations and events. Fort Knox has proudly accepted its role as a safe and environmental responsible mine and will continue these efforts throughout the coming years with its proud and dedicated workforce. Mark Huffington is the Environmental Superintendent for Kinross Fort Knox.

“I’ve enjoyed being part of that process.” One of the things at his job he’s most Continued from 21 proud of is Usibelli’s safety record. of groomed to take over.” They recently hit 600 days with no In 2010, Renshaw became the accidents. “We take safety super serigeneral manager and vice president ously,” Renshaw said. “It’s the top goal of operations. “I work with all our over everything else.” different departments,” Renshaw said. Renshaw lives in Healy and is rais“I make sure everyone is on the same ing his three young sons, ages 7, 9 and page.” 10, there. Since Renshaw began working for His oldest son, age 24, went to the Usibelli, the company has worked University of Alaska Anchorage, and three different mines. When he start- is now attending medical school in ed, the company was working the Pok- Washington. “He got married last er Flats mine. Then, Usibelli started year, and they have a baby,” Renshaw working the Two Bull Ridge mine and said. “I became a grandpa last year.” is now close to finishing that mine and Renshaw sees himself staying in is beginning work at the Jumbo Dome Healy with Usibelli for years to come. mine. “It’s kind of fun for a person “My kids love school here; my wife that sticks in one place long enough absolutely loves it,” he said, “We love to watch that happen,” Renshaw said. Healy.”


program provides a curriculum and pathway for high school and college students who are interested in the mining industry that starts with an overview of mining occupations and ends with internships, professional certifications and hopefully a job in the industry. As Greens Creek approaches

its 25th year of production, the company continues to focus on safely and responsibly providing base and precious metal resources to the world. Recently, federally approved expansions of the tailings storage facility into the national monument not only gives the mine the room it needs to con-

tinue to grow, but it also affirms the commitment that Hecla has made to sustainable operations that protect the surrounding environment. Tagline here and here and here and here and here Tagline here and here and here and here and here


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


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(907) 452-5053 1229 Richardson Hwy. Delta Junction, AK 99737

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75 Years of Progress: Alaska Mining  
75 Years of Progress: Alaska Mining