Alaska Minerals Industry
Minerals Industry Report for Alaska
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In 2007, Alaska’s nonfuel raw mineral production was valued at $3.52 billion, based upon annual U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data. This was $499 million, or a 16.5% increase, from the State’s total nonfuel mineral value for 2006. The State remained 6th among the 50 States in total nonfuel mineral production value and accounted for about 5% of the U.S. total value. Per capita, the State led the Nation in the value of its mineral industry’s nonfuel mineral production; with a population of 683,000, the value of production was about $5,150 per capita.
During 2007, metallic minerals accounted for more than 97% of the total value of Alaska’s nonfuel mineral production. Nearly all the metals value was the result of zinc, gold, lead, and silver production (in descending order of value). Zinc and lead production was mainly from Teck Cominco Alaska Inc.’s Red Dog Mine near Kotzebue in northwestern Alaska and the Greens Creek Mine (a joint venture of Kennecott Minerals Co. and Hecla Mining Co.) in southeastern Alaska southwest of Juneau; most of the State’s gold was produced from Kinross Gold Corp.’s Fort Knox Mine near Fairbanks in interior Alaska, the Pogo Mine in interior Alaska near Delta, and the Greens Creek Mine. Nearly all other gold production was from placer gold resources. Minor copper production was credited to the State for the first time in a number of years.
Zinc production increased slightly (4%) from that of 2006, and its unit value decreased by 3%. Significant increases in the production of gold were the result of commissioning the Pogo Mine. Although lead production increased about 9% in 2007 from that of 2006, its value rose significantly owing to a strong increase in demand as world supplies remained tight. Silver production increased by 28%. In the industrial minerals sector, construction sand and gravel production increased by almost 11% and its total value increased by $2.1 million. A 26% decrease in crushed stone production resulted in a $4.4 million decrease in its value (table 1).
In 2007, Alaska continued to rank first in the production of zinc and silver, while producing more than 18 times and more than 3 times, respectively, the quantities of those metal mineral commodities than the next highest producing States. The State also remained second in the production of lead, third of 10 gold-producing States, and the producer of significant quantities of construction sand and gravel.
Production of peat was not reported to the USGS, partly because of reporting difficulties associated with the seasonal, intermittent nature of peat mining in the State. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS), estimated peat production to be about 52,200 cubic meters, valued at about $1.09 million; this was an increase from 50,900 cubic meters produced in 2006, valued at about $1.06 million (Szumigala and Hughes, 2007, p. 40).