Mining

Mental Health Trust exploring Icy Cape prospect

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office is evaluating a heavy mineral prospect near Yakutat that could change the course of the agency for generations.

Icy Cape is a long stretch of beach owned by the trust at the entrance of Icy Bay that appears to hold world-class deposits of several heavy minerals, according to Trust Land Office Executive Director John Morrison.

Package of tax hikes on fishing, mining and fuel stalls

A bill to raise taxes on fisheries, fuel and mining remains unscheduled for a House Finance Committee hearing after public objections.

Gov. Bill Walker introduced a suite of proposals at the beginning of the session designed to hitch up taxes on state industries and individuals to help close the $4.1 billion budget gap.

Bokan mine development slowed as rare earth prices dip

Development of the Bokan Mountain rare earth mine is on hold as the company leading the project focuses on a new processing technology and waits for rare earth metal prices to rebound.

Nova Scotia-based Ucore Rare Metals Inc. finished infill drilling and drilled groundwater monitoring wells in 2014, leaving it at a natural stopping point before moving towards the next steps of development.

Ucore Vice President Randy MacGillivray said in an interview the company has delineated a resource of approximately 5 million tons that is 0.65 percent total rare earth metals.

Greens Creek mine reports record silver production in 2015

Hecla Mining Co. announced annual results that included record silver production at its Greens Creek mine near Juneau.

Greens Creek had production of 2.6 million and 8.5 million ounces of silver in the fourth quarter and full year of 2015, respectively, an increase of 4 percent and 8 percent over the same periods of 2014.

Federal officials consider Donlin mine’s subsistence impact

BETHEL — Two federal agencies have weighed in on the potential impacts the proposed Donlin Creek mine could have on subsistence along the Kuskokwim River.

Donlin Gold LLC estimates it could excavate about 34 million ounces of gold over three decades from the proposed open pit mine near the village of Crooked Creek, KYUK-AM reported.

The Army Corps of Engineers predicts that the mine would have a minor to moderate impact on subsistence practices and resources.

Nome graphite mine progress slowed, but ongoing

Development of the Graphite Creek mine near Nome has been delayed, but progress continues on the project that could become the country’s lone such mine.

Executive chairman of Vancouver-based Graphite One Resources Doug Smith said his company is moving from exploration to the technical and economic evaluation phases of the project. At the same time, Graphite One is in the midst of another round of fundraising, “a never-ending requirement in the business of junior mining,” Smith noted.

IG finds no bias in EPA Bristol Bay assessment

The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is on the up-and-up, at least according to the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General.

Based on “obtainable records,” an Inspector General report issued Jan. 13 found no bias in how the EPA conducted its lengthy assessment of the potential impacts of mining within Bristol Bay watershed.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Draft EIS for Donlin out; DNR issues Chuitna water decision

Donlin Gold reached a milestone Nov. 30 when the first draft of an environmental impact statement for the giant Western Alaska gold project was released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The draft EIS was 20 years in the making, as early resource definition work began at the Donlin claims in the Upper Kuskokwim River valley in 1995, according to Donlin Gold.

Donlin environmental impact statement released

Twenty years in the making, the first draft of an environmental impact statement for the Donlin Gold mine proposed for Western Alaska was released Nov. 30.

“It’s still a long path ahead of us, a lot of challenges ahead of us, but (the EIS) is a significant milestone,” Donlin Gold General Manager Stan Foo told the Resource Development Council of Alaska Dec. 3.

Early resource definition work at the site began in 1995.

Mining sector in turmoil as Anglo American sheds jobs

LONDON (AP) — The decision by a London-based mining company to shed 85,000 jobs is the sign of a global industry in crisis, with conglomerates reassessing their huge operations to cope with a drop in demand from Chinese factories for metals and other raw materials.

Anglo American said Dec. 8 it will shed some 63 percent of its workforce in a radical restructuring meant to cope with tumbling commodity prices. It will streamline its global business from some 55 mines to around 20.

Alaska, British Columbia sign transboundary MOU

Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding Nov. 25 committing to cooperation on transboundary issues, particularly related to concerns in Southeast over mines on the Canadian side of the border.

Alaska, BC sign transboundary MOU

This story has been updated with clarification and a comment from Seabridge Gold Inc. Vice President of Environmental Affairs R. Brent Murphy.

Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding Wednesday morning committing to cooperation on transboundary issues, particularly related to concerns in Southeast over mines on the Canadian side of the border.

Resource heavyweights gather at momentous time for Alaska

It’s November, and time for the big Resource Development Council annual conference. This year, more than any other, huge issues loom for Alaskans including the proposed $50-billion plus North Slope gas pipeline and liquefied gas project and the state’s fiscal troubles, with $3 billion-plus annual deficits.

All will be discussed at the conference.

Pebble conflict moves to Capitol Hill following latest report

The fight over the proposed Pebble mine at times makes politics look tame.

That impassioned battle resumed on Capitol Hill Nov. 5 when the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology heard from those on the front lines of both sides. The committee also received testimony from former Maine senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen, whose recently published report about the Environmental Protection Agency’s involvement in the matter has once again made Pebble a topic of national debate.

Draft EIS nearly ready for Donlin, in the works for Chuitna

Mining companies involved with several important projects aren’t ready to press the button on construction just yet, but they are positioning things to be ready to go when metals and commodity prices tick up, as they surely will.

One large project being watched closely is Donlin Gold in the mid-Kuskokwim River region west of Anchorage, a potential $6.7 billion surface gold mine.

Miners seek bright spots on horizon

If you look around the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage next week you wouldn’t believe there’s a slump in mining industry.

The Alaska Miners Association holds its annual convention and trade show Nov. 1-7 and the convention’s massive trade show will be of record size, taking all of the convention center’s vast ground floor and a share of the second floor.

About 1,000 people are expected at the convention, said AMA’s executive director, Deantha Crockett. That’s about the same as last year.

Former EPA biologist North’s whereabouts still unknown

Where in the world is Phillip North?

The former Environmental Protection Agency biologist is scheduled to be deposed by Pebble Limited Partnership and EPA attorneys Nov. 12 in Anchorage; however his whereabouts are unknown to both sides.

NANA makes gold strike; work continues amid price slump

Things aren’t great for Alaska’s miners right now, but despite the extended downturn in metals prices some explorers are pressing ahead.

NANA Regional Corp., which conducted its own exploration, announced what it termed a “significant” new gold discovery on state lands on the eastern Seward Peninsula.

However, the overall number of new “grassroots” exploration projects is sharply down this year compared with previous years, and the suppliers and contractors who support explorers are feeling the effects.

State trust appeals DNR decision on Chuitna water reservation

It seems nobody likes the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ most recent Chuitna mine decision, including a state authority it oversees.

The Alaska Department of Law filed an appeal on behalf of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority against the Department of Natural Resource’s Oct. 8 decision to grant an in-stream flow reservation, or IFR, to Chuitna Citizens Coalition for the lower section of Middle Creek.

DNR rules on Chuitna water rights petitions

Alaska salmon scored a partial victory on Oct. 6, but PacRim’s coal mine could still happen.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources granted an instream flow reservation, or IFR, to Chuitna Citizen’s Coalition for the for the lower section of Middle Creek. Middle Creek is part of the watershed for a proposed coal mine, and an integral part of the drainage process necessary to complete the mine.

Only Chuitna Citizen’s Coalition’s IFR for the lower section was granted by DNR. The coalition had also filed IFR requests for the middle and upper reaches.

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