Alaska. It’s a vast state with few people and lots of wild remote wilderness. It’s known as the last frontier. A land rich in resources of both oil and minerals both precious and base. Its an explorers and prospectors paradise where dreams are made and many even come true. And when it comes to gold, Alaska really is that pot at the end of the rainbow. Absolute fortunes have been made in the goldfields of Alaska and there are still many more fortunes to be found in Alaska.
Gold was first found in the Kenia River back in 1848 by Russian explorers. Mining never took off until around 1870 when gold was found around the area of Juneau. Soon after that discovery gold was found in both the Fairbanks area and of course there was the world famous Nome gold rush. Today Alaska has the second most amount of active mines in the USA, second only to Nevada. It is estimated that there is close to 200 active mining operations in the state. Most of these operations are smaller placer operations along with other seasonal hard rock shows. There are however some very large mines run by major mining companies. Some of these mines are massive with ore reserves that are almost mind boggling.
Greens Creek is one of the largest and lowest-cost primary silver mines in the world and is owned by Hecla Mining HL. Last year, Greens Creek produced 8.5 million ounces of silver at a cash cost per silver ounce of $3.91 and 60,566 ounces of gold. The mine holds current proven and probable silver reserves of 88.7 million ounces, 677,000 ounces of proven and probable gold reserves, as well as 218,400 tons of lead and 582,640 tons of zinc in proven and probable reserves.
Fort Knox owned by Kinross Gold K is located in the Fairbanks mining district. This mine produces close to 400,000 ounces of gold annually. Proven and probalble reserves total around 2.4 million ounces gold. The mine and mill hammer out close to 40,000 tons of material per day.
Pogo Mine owned by the Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corporation has been in operation for 10 years and has produced over 3 million ounces of gold. The mine boasts five known deposits: Liese Zone, North Zone, East Deep, South Pogo and 4021. Extensive exploration efforts are underway to identify additional ore reserves as the magnitude of these deposits is not clearly defined. Pogo is an underground mine with more than 90 miles of underground roads winding to depths more than 1,000 feet below the surface. The quartz veins of the deposit yield an average of 1/2 troy ounce of gold per ton of rock, which makes Pogo a high-grade gold mine.
Kensington Mine is an underground mine located on the Alaska panhandle and is owned by Coeur Mining CDE . This mine is a smaller mine and has only been in operation since 2010. Production from the mine averages 125,000 ounces gold per year. Proven and probable reserves is about 560,000 ounces gold but ongoing work may add to this reserve.
Red Dog Mine owned by Teck TCK is not a gold mine but it is world’s largest producer of zinc and has the world’s largest zinc reserves. The mine accounts for 10% of the world’s zinc production and accounted for 55% of the mineral value produced in Alaska in 2008. The mine produces 515,200 metric tons of zinc, 122,600 metric tons of lead, and 283 metric tons (9,100,000 ozt) of silver, for a total metal value of over one billion dollars in 2008 alone.
How To Invest & Play Alaska Junior Miners.
If you don’t want to invest or play the large cap stocks that are in Alaska, there are some juniors that are well worth putting on a watch list. Today there is even more on going work in the exploration and prospecting field in all areas of Alaska such as the Livengood Project in the Fairbanks region owned by International Tower Hill Mines ITH.
Further north in the state, the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects run by Nova Copper NCQ is showing off some great finds on the copper front where one hole delivered 178 meters averaging 3.89% copper in a mineral resource with an approximate 6% copper-equivalent grade, and is one the largest and highest-grade known VMS deposit of its kind in the world.
On the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Redstar Gold RGC is exploring what Dr. Jeffrey Hedenquist, who is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned experts on epithermal deposits describes Redstar’s Unga property as district scale. The company has a summer program on at this time as well as site tours by various major mining companies.
Not far from Haines Alaska, Constantine Metal Resources CEM has a joint venture with Dowa Metals & Mining Co., Ltd. of Japan who has the option to earn a 49% interest in the companies Palmer VMS project. Dowa metals will make aggregate expenditures of US$22,000,000 over a four year period. This project is already a NI 43-101 resource. The 2016 exploration drill program will test several targets located within a 3 km radius of the RW and South Wall Resource an Inferred Mineral Resource of 8.1 million tonnes grading 1.41% copper, 5.25% zinc, 0.32 g/t gold and 31.7 g/t silver.
About 60 miles from Fairbanks you’ll find Free Gold Ventures FVL where they are working on their Golden Summit property and newly aquired Shorty Creek copper gold, and copper moly porphyry project. Highlights include 220 feet grading 1.22 g/t Au starting from surface.
There are some very large projects awaiting approvals from various state organizations and departments. Northern Dynasty Metals NDM is one of those companies wanting to develope it’s Pebble Project which is a copper, gold, molybdenum and silver deposit located in the Bristol Bay area of Alaska. This deposit is one of the greatest stores of mineral wealth ever discovered. The current resource estimate includes 6.44 billion tonnes in the measured and indicated categories containing 57 billion lb copper, 70 million oz gold, 3.4 billion lb molybdenum and 344 million oz silver; and 4.46 billion tonnes in the inferred category, containing 24.5 billion lb copper, 37 million oz gold, 2.2 billion lb molybdenum and 170 million oz silver. Quantities of palladium and rhenium also occur in the deposit.
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