Alaska Mining Projects Restart

Alaska Mining Projects Restart

June 9, 2020

With Alaska’s unemployment at nearly one-third of its potential workforce, and industries still struggling with post-COVID re-openings and restrictions, any good news in Alaska’s energy sector is noteworthy.

This week brought two stories worth highlighting, as both are energy-centric, and both would boost employment in areas of the state that are suffering right now.

The Donlin Mine project, located near Bethel in the Yukon-Kuskokwim area of the state, announced plans to restart its summer drilling program, which had been delayed due to COVID-19.  The mine, one of North America’s largest gold prospects, will ultimately have hundreds of employees, with shareholder hire priority from the two Alaska Native corporations who own the deposit’s land rights being part of the operating agreement.  Those jobs will be game-changers for an area that suffers from high unemployment and low overall household wages.

Down on Prince of Wales Island, in the southeastern-most tip of Alaska, the Niblack mine, a gold-zinc-silver-copper project, has announced plans to restart its development process, which had been stagnant since announcing financial difficulties with its ownership group.  With the announcement came a notice of restructuring, with new leadership at the helm.  The project, which was just beginning its permitting process, would breathe life into the southeast communities on Prince of Wales, which had its tourism-based economy decimated this year by COVID and the subsequent cancellation of nearly every cruise ship set to visit the area.

Although neither project is going to be part of the short-term recovery of Alaska’s economy, the fact that both seem to be gaining momentum is good news for Alaska’s energy future.  Jobs – especially good-paying ones in rural areas of our state – will be welcomed no matter when they arrive.  We at Power The Future look forward to more good news from both projects.