Mining remained a vibrant spot in Alaska in 2020, even because the COVID-19 pandemic gutted different key industries, in accordance with a report by the McKinley Analysis Group.
The report, which was commissioned by the Alaska Miners Affiliation and the Council of Alaska Producers, notes that there “had been no important manufacturing disruptions or employee layoffs” within the mining trade because of the novel coronavirus.
Mining was instantly accountable for 4,700 jobs within the state in 2020, that are among the highest paying, with an estimated annual wage of $115,320, greater than twice the state common ($56,985) for all different sectors of the financial system. One other 4,900 oblique jobs are additionally attributed to mining actions, in accordance with the report, for a complete payroll of about $890 million, not together with profit packages.
These are almost all year-round jobs, half of that are in rural Alaska.
Alaska’s mines produce coal, gold, lead, silver and zinc, in addition to building supplies comparable to sand, gravel and rock. Mined merchandise make up 38% of Alaska’s whole exports, price about $1.9 billion in 2019, in accordance with the report.
The Fort Knox gold mine, 26 miles northeast of Fairbanks, is the state’s largest producing gold mine, which poured its 8 millionth ounce in 2019. The mine which initially had a life expectancy of a decade, is now in its twenty fourth yr of manufacturing. It’s the single largest property taxpayer within the Fairbanks North Star Borough and has a workforce of about 700 individuals, plus greater than 100 contractors.
By way of its payroll, purchases of products and companies, authorities funds and charitable contributions, Fort Knox has a big effect on the native financial system. In response to a report launched in 2020 from the McDowell Group, (now McKinley Analysis), 99% of Fort Knox staff stay within the borough, with a median wage of $114,673, earlier than advantages, totaling about $74 million. When oblique jobs and different results are added to direct wages, the overall rises to $121 million. It spent $179 million with about 350 Alaska companies, 88% of that are based mostly within the borough.
In 2019, Fort Knox paid $11 million to the borough authorities and one other $11 million to the federal authorities.
The mine additionally contributed $523,987 in money, worker volunteer time and different in-kind help to 88 Alaska nonprofit organizations. It additionally has contributed $3 million to the College of Alaska Fairbanks.
As a result of Fort Knox’s workforce commutes every day to the mine, it was much less affected by the pandemic than different mine websites, the place employees typically work in shifts of two weeks and two weeks off, as an illustration, in accordance Anna Atchison, exterior affairs supervisor at Fort Knox. That had some extra financial advantages for the resort trade.
“Due to the way in which they’ve needed to handle and hold individuals protected, they’ve been paying them to quarantine in motels in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks,” Atchison stated. “The resort trade is getting a little bit of a shot within the arm as a result of mining staff must quarantine earlier than they return on shift.”
As well as, the members of the Council of Alaska Producers, which was shaped by among the bigger mines in 1992, have been speaking and sharing greatest practices because the pandemic hit almost a yr in the past.
Northern Star Pogo, positioned northeast of Delta Junction, has about 500 staff, a lot of whom stay within the Inside. It was found in 1994 and poured its 4 millionth ounce in 2020.
The opposite massive mine within the Inside is Usibelli Coal, which supplies the gasoline for a 3rd of Inside Alaska’s power era. The mine has been in steady operation since 1943 and employs about 102 individuals.
General, mining supplies about $49 million in native authorities income and $117 million in state authorities income, by way of mining licenses, rents, royalties, charges, taxes and different funds. It additionally generates $175 million in funds to Alaska Native companies, which, due to a clause within the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, are divided between all the Alaska Native companies, and never simply those positioned close to wealthy mineral sources.
It’s not solely the most important gold mines. In 2019, 169 energetic placer mines produced about 47,747 ounces of gold with a gross manufacturing worth of $66.8 million.
Corporations are additionally exploring deposits of graphite close to Nome and uncommon earth minerals, that are at the moment in restricted provide from China and are utilized in cell telephones, catalytic converters, laptop, DVDS and different excessive expertise.
Prospecting remains to be a key a part of Alaska’s financial system. In 2020, $127 million was spent on exploration, a slice of the $4 billion spent on exploration since 1981.
One other $430 million was spent on mine building or different capital investments in 2020. Tasks below growth embrace:
• Livengood, 73 miles north of Fairbanks, which is estimated to have 11.4 million ounces of indicated gold sources. It will present 370 potential manufacturing jobs. A prefeasibility examine is predicted this yr.
• Tetlin, is a gold deposit close to the village of the identical identify. Kinross Alaska, which operates the Fort Knox mine, acquired a 70% curiosity in October. The undertaking is within the scoping section, with plans to start manufacturing in 2024. Below present plans, the high-grade ore from the positioning could be trucked to Fort Knox for processing.
• Graphite Creek close to Nome. The undertaking incorporates wealthy graphite sources on the Seward Peninsula and can be within the prefeasibility stage. It will provice 370 potential manufacturing jobs.
• The Higher Kobuk Mineral Tasks — Arctic and Bornite — include deposits of copper, zinc, gold and silver. Since 2011, about $147 million has been spent on exploration. The undertaking is present process baseline environmental monitoring and the ultimate Environmental Influence Assertion Joint Document of Resolution and Wetlands Allow has been accomplished for a 211-mile entry highway that might join with the Dalton Freeway.
Two different tasks are within the superior allowing levels, Donlin Gold in southwest Alaska, which might create as much as 1,000 jobs; and Pebble, a world-class deposit of copper, gold, molybdenum, silver and rhenium, which might present about 850 potential manufacturing jobs. It has been a controversial undertaking as a consequence of its location close to the headwaters of rivers that function spawning beds for Bristol Bay salmon.
Contact employees author Julie Stricker at 459-7532