Mining is fighting low prices

PHOTO/Michael Penn / The Juneau Empire

These are not the best of times for Alaska’s mining industry. Prices for precious metals, like gold and silver, are still down. Base metals, like zinc, lead and copper, aren’t much better.

Still, Alaska’s miners are generally upbeat. Mining exploration is suffering worldwide, but Alaska is doing better than other regions in attracting new investment, according to Dick Swainbank, a state minerals specialist based in Fairbanks.

A new area attracting attention, Swainbank said, is the Road Metal prospect near Northway, in the eastern Interior, where North Star Exploration, a junior mining company, is now doing geophysical work and may be drilling this summer on a high-value gold prospect. It is on lands owned by Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native regional corporation for the Interior.

Another area of interest, Swainbank said, is the White Gold prospect, about 30 or 40 miles southwest of Tok, where GrayD Resources, another junior mining company, has uncovered a six-mile area with very prospective gold showings.

Placer Dome, a major mining company, recently signed an agreement to fund further exploration in the area.

In Southeast Alaska, Greens Creek Mining Co. met its production targets last year at the Greens Creek Mine, on northern Admiralty Island near Juneau, and exceeded previous year’s production levels, according to Ron Plantz, a manager with Greens Creek Mining Co., in a recent briefing to a state legislative committee in Juneau.

11/12/2016 - 11:39pm