October 04, 2011
Hundreds of political leaders, mining officials and executives,...
A two-part segment from Alaska’s local channel, KTUU, reported that billions of dollars have been invested in the exploration and extraction of minerals in Alaska since late 1800s. Today, the state is home to six producing mines that produce mostly gold and silver, but also zinc, lead and ore. Mining is a major industry in the state thanks to its abundance of mineral resources.
In fact, Alaska is a critical partner in U.S. minerals mining and is a reliable source for high quality resources. The KTUU report states that the Alaska Miners Association “represents $3 billion in gross mineral production value.” Red Dog Mine, for example, is considered to have “a world class zinc deposit.” According to Wayne Hall from Teck, Canada’s largest diversified mining company, “Some rock has upwards of 40 percent of the zinc mineral in it which is phenomenal. Other mines may be around five percent just to put it in perspective.”
As a result, Alaska’s mining explorations and projects create thousands of employment opportunities for the state and its local communities. Alaska Miners Association reports that mining creates 13,100 direct and indirect jobs and the industry is poised to grow. For instance, Fort Knox Gold, the state’s largest producing gold mine, is a large-scale facility and employs more than 650 people.
While many local economies suffered during the recent recession, the mining industry buoyed Alaska’s economy and continued to generate revenue for the state. For example, mining jobs totaled $650 million in salaries in 2013. The industry contributes large economic benefits at local, state and federal levels too. Further, the 2013 Alaska Mining Report reveals that mining contributed roughly $21 million in tax revenue to local governments, $80 million to state government and nearly $57 million to state government-related revenues.
Mining is prospering across the state, yet KTUU reports that the burdensome permitting process does cause complications. Ed Fogel, deputy commissioner with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), believes “the biggest misconception is that DNR issues one permit.” In reality mines are required to gather dozens of permits from the state and federal government, a process which can take up to 10 years.
President and CEO of National Mining Association Hal Quinn once said Alaska is a shining example of the mining industry’s impact on local economic growth, job creation, manufacturing and other minerals-reliant industries. And technological innovation is advancing mining’s capabilities. Unfortunately, despite this technological advancement, minerals mining in the state is not operating at full capacity due to delayed access to its mineral resources. Without an efficient permitting process, Alaska’s mining industry will continue to face challenges in unlocking the state’s full minerals resource potential.
Watch the KTUU two-part segment here.