Mining

Major discovery at Bornite prospect

Minerals companies exploring the western Brooks Range say they have identified as much as 9 billion pounds of copper in high-grade ores and additional resources of zinc.

The Arctic and Bornite copper deposits have been explored for decades but a new discovery at Bornite by Vancouver,B.C.-based NovaCopper Resources this summer may push the known higher-grade copper resource to up to a critical mass where development may be possible.

Gold operations in rural areas pick up the pace

High gold prices have stimulated Alaska mining projects including several in remote areas.

The small Nixon Fork underground gold and copper mine near McGrath on the upper Kuskokwim River continued operations in 2012 according to its owner, Canada-based Fire River Gold Corp.

In late October the mine was producing 3,800 tons of ore daily, twice the rate from earlier in the year, and had reached a stable production rate, according to Fire River spokeswoman Kimberly Ann.

Doyon to spend $37M on exploration

Doyon Ltd., the Interior Alaska Native regional corporation, says it will spend $37 million this year on several oil and gas projects in Interior Alaska and will drill second a test well in the prospective Nenana Basin, west of Fairbanks, this winter.

Doyon will also be the first explorer to take advantage of a new Alaska exploration incentive that will have the state pay for 80 percent of the well and extend preferential state tax treatment, Doyon CEO Aaron Schutt said in a Aug. 27 briefing in Fairbanks.

With six drill rigs at work, it's a busy summer at Livengood

FAIRBANKS — International Tower Hills Mines is continuing development planning on the company’s Livengood gold project on the Elliott Highway north of Fairbanks.

Engineering and other work continues on a development plan for the mine that is now due in mid-2013. Normally, a mining company does a “pre-feasibility” study to initiate permitting, followed by a “feasibility” study following the obtaining of permits. But at its Livengood project, ITH is combining the two into one feasibility study.

Both sides of Pebble find fault with EPA study

Scientists and attorneys on both sides of the Pebble mine controversy are voicing starkly different opinions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Bristol Bay watershed study.

A panel of 12 independent scientists concluded three days of meetings on the study in Anchorage Aug. 7. A report to EPA by the group will be made late this fall, the scientists said.

Gold find adds 1.2M ounces at Pogo

FAIRBANKS – Drilling crews are busy on new exploration this summer at the Pogo gold mine near Delta, east of Fairbanks. It is the biggest exploration season since the mine opened, says Lorna Shaw, external affairs manager for Sumitomo Metal Mining, which owns and operates the mine.

Mineral exploration spending tops $300 million in 2011

Mining is growing fast in its economic punch in the state, new studies by the industry show.

In 2011 the industry employed 4,500 in producing mines exploration, up from 3,500 in 2010 in terms of equivalent full-time jobs, according to studies by McDowell Group, the Juneau-based consulting firm.

The average annual pay for a worker in mining reached $100,000 in 2011, up from an average of $95,000 the previous year. State revenues from mining totaled $148 million in 2011, 170 percent up from $58.9 million in 2010, which was also 40 percent up from 2009.

Miners busy with expansions, new projects

From far Southeast Alaska to the far Northwest, minerals companies are busy with projects. Alaska has seven producing mines now, one more than last year.

The new producing mine is Nixon Fork on the upper Kuskokwim River, a remote location where fuel and supplies must be flown in. Several new mines may move into production the coming years, all in different parts of the state.

Here’s a review of the producing mines and prospects around Alaska:

Southeast

Pebble debate breaks out between BBNC shareholders

JUNEAU — Sharp opinion differences over the proposed Pebble mine within the Bristol Bay community spilled out in Juneau March 19.

The occasion was an informal “lunch and learn” noon session for legislators and staff in the state capitol where Bristol Bay Native Corp., the regional Alaska Native corporation for the area, gave a presentation on its activities, finances and dividends paid to shareholders.

State sues Lake and Pen Borough over initiative aimed at Pebble

The State of Alaska has filed its challenge to the recently enacted ordinance in Lake and Peninsula Borough aimed at stopping the Pebble mine.

Alleging the ordinance unconstitutionally usurps the state’s role in managing natural resources for the maximum benefit of all citizens, the state filed its lawsuit against Lake and Peninsula Borough in the Alaska Superior Court 3rd District Oct. 28.

Alaskans know very little about the real process of mining

Except for TV commercials, which are laden with mixed messages and misinformation, most Alaskans know little about the mining process and have seldom seen the inner workings of a mine.

Until World War II, for example, mining was the state’s largest employer, and the industry operated under few environmental regulations. With the advent of the Clean Water Acts of 1977 and 1987 and new mining technology, most operations contain the water or leave it cleaner than before the mine opened.

Barges on the move for Tulsequah Chief Mine

JUNEAU — Three ocean and river barges were headed toward Southeast Alaska last week as part of a plan to haul construction supplies up the Taku River to the Tulsequah Chief Mine.

The conventional barges aren’t part of mining company Redcorp’s contentious proposal to use amphibious hoverbarges on the Taku to service the mine, roughly 40 miles northeast of Juneau in Canada.

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