FAIRBANKS — Miners, investors, politicians and international companies will all descend on Fairbanks today for a summit on Alaska’s potential as a source for strategic and critical minerals.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ second annual Strategic and Critical Minerals Summit aims to promote and investigate Alaska’s vast reserves of minerals used for many high-tech products, such as cellphones, laptops and those for military use.
The United States relies almost entirely on foreign sources of rare earth elements such as cobalt, platinum, tin and yttrium. In recent years, there’s been a push to map domestic deposits, and in 2011 Gov. Sean Parnell launched an exhaustive mapping effort of Alaska.
Today’s event is the second of its kind in Fairbanks, and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan said it will place more focus on infrastructure, investment and manpower needed to fully realize Alaska’s resource potential.
Additionally, Sullivan said he hopes to make it into an annual event in Fairbanks.
“It’s a part of the state that’s enormously supportive and understands mining activities,” he said.
The summit is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge.
Speakers at Friday’s conference will include numerous top state officials, including Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Department of Commerce, Economic Development and Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bell.
Alaska State Geologist Bob Swenson, University of Alaska Fairbanks Vice Chancellor for Research Mark Myers and DNR Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels also will speak.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is expected.
Larry Meinert, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Mineral Resources Program, will make a presentation, as will Tom Crafford, director of the state DNR’s Office of Project Management and Permitting.
Numerous private sector leaders also will attend. Hiroyuki Katayama, assistant general manager of Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Corp. in the Vancouver, B.C., office, will speak. Alaska Native regional corporations will be represented by Lance Miller of NANA Regional Corp., Ethan Schutt of Cook Inlet Region Inc. and Matt Ganley of Bering Straits Native Corp.
Curtis Freeman, president of Avalon Development in Fairbanks, and Karl Hanneman, Alaska general manager of Tower Hill Mines’ Livengood Gold Project, are also on the schedule.
There is no registration fee. A buffet lunch is available for about $18. A post-conference reception from 6-8 p.m. will be held at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.