Alaska Miners Association celebrates 80 years

Mining is one of Alaska’s oldest industries and the Alaska Miners Association exemplifies that.

The trade group was founded before World War II and is celebrating its 80th anniversary during its annual convention in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Convention Center Nov. 3-9.

Mining continues to be a major industry in Alaska; it employs roughly 13,000 people at small placer and prospecting camps to world-scale mines across the state, according to the Alaska Department of Labor.

But even the enduring association doesn’t match the history of mining in Alaska. Commercial mining and Alaska’s “gold rush” years started more than a century before when Russian engineers discovered gold near the Kuskokwim River in 1832, according to the group.

The Kuskokwim River valley long supported placer gold operations and today is home to the Donlin Creek gold prospect. With a resource of approximately 33 million ounces, the Donlin mine will be one of the largest open-pit gold operations in the world when it is developed.

As for the convention, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune, a former Anglo American representative, will be the keynote speaker Nov. 6, and he will give an update on the mining-related issues the department has dealt with in the first year of Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s administration.

Dunleavy’s first public appearance after being elected last year was at the Miners convention, where he emphatically declared Alaska would be “open for business” with him as governor.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige will provide the keynote address Nov. 7, sharing her vision for mining in the state and BLM Alaska officials will discuss new priorities regarding mining on federal lands in the state on Nov. 8, according to materials provided by the association.

As is customary, the convention will also feature numerous discussions regarding mining policy in Alaska as well as updates on the plethora of large prospects — from copper and gold to graphite and rare earth elements — across the state.

Representatives from several of Alaska’s large producing mines will also discuss what their companies have learned in developing metal prospects in the state’s sensitive environment and harsh climate in presentations Nov. 7.

Evening activities will start with a history night and inductions into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame and the convention will conclude with the Alaska Miners Association’s annual awards banquet.

Updated: 
10/30/2019 - 9:45am

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