Many roads, docks and other infrastructure throughout Alaska were originally constructed to serve the mining industry. Major communities like Fairbanks, Juneau, and Nome were founded on mining activity. Today, a rejuvenated mining industry brings a broad range of benefits to Alaska, offering some of the highest paying jobs in both urban and rural Alaska, as well as generating significant local government tax payments and royalties to Native corporations for activity on their land.
The industry produces zinc, lead, copper, gold, silver, coal, as well as construction minerals such as sand, gravel, and rock. In addition to jobs, mining creates public revenue by paying state and local taxes. Mines help support local economies in both urban and rural Alaska with mining companies serving as the largest taxpayers in the City and Borough of Juneau, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the Northwest Arctic Borough, and important tax payers in rural communities like Denali Borough and the City of Nome.
Driving interest is demand for metals, primarily from Asian countries like China, Japan, and India. Investor concerns of unpredictable regulatory and permitting processes are likely compounding what is a very difficult economic cycle for the mining industry. This action of federal overreach likely jeopardized investment in Alaska. Additionally, Alaska faces two significant logistical challenges: In addition, drilling costs and fuel expenses to transport workers and supplies by air have risen sharply.
Perhaps one of the largest challenges the industry faced in recent years are anti-mining initiatives proposed on the statewide ballot. The initiatives were so broadly written that they would have affected all major metal mining in Alaska — existing and future. They would have been especially damaging to Alaska Native communities, which depend upon revenue and jobs from natural resources.
Fortunately, Alaskans spoke out and defeated these initiatives. Finally, the Alaska Minerals Commission has warned that opposition efforts to new projects threaten the integrity of the land management process in Alaska, not only for mining, but future investment in other resource industries.
Minerals produced included zinc, gold, silver, lead, copper, coal, rock, gravel and sand. Previously, exploration spending in Alaska has accounted for a large percent of the total exploration monies spent in the U. Relatively strong prices for zinc have helped to sustain the high level of mineral export values over the past several years, as has the historically high prices received for lead.
When a plan is put forward for permitting, a multi-year process, involving 11 federal and state government agencies, over 60 individual permit requirements, and multiple and ongoing opportunities for public input begins. Red Dog, one of the largest zinc mines in the world, both in terms of production and reserves, employed people of which over half are NANA shareholders.
The mine producedounces in and a recordounces in Fort Knox is an open pit mine using standard truck and shovel ore extraction methods. Gold is recovered using both gravity and carbon in pulp processes.
A heap leach facility was constructed in The mine employs people and all employees live and work in the Fairbanks area.