FAIRBANKS — Sumitomo Pogo Mine has pledged a $1 million gift to a University of Alaska Fairbanks mining engineering endowment, the school announced Tuesday.
The three-year pledge will provide funding to the endowment from 2014-16. It will offer research funding for as many as four graduate students per year, allowing them to explore long-term projects, said department chairman Rajive Ganguli.
He said the timing of the gift is important. Many mining projects around the state are in their infancy, and mining often requires specific research the endowment will help fund.
“Mining is really starting to take off, and Alaska being a technologically challenging place to mine, we really need to work on some of those complicated problems,” Ganguli said.
In a statement, Sumitomo Pogo General Manager Chris Kennedy said UAF’s contributions to the industry are important and that “research and mining challenges tackled by UAF have real-world applications.”
The graduate research endowment has swelled in recent years. The gift extends a previous three-year, $1 million pledge Pogo made to the endowment in 2011. The same year, Kinross Fort Knox announced a three-year, $990,000 pledge to the endowment.
Pogo, 38 miles northeast of Delta Junction, and Fort Knox, 26 miles northeast of Fairbanks, are operating gold mines.
The endowment has been given a significant boost by a state education tax credit program the Legislature approved in 2010. When Pogo and Fort Knox made their initial donations a year later, as much as $250,000 of a $300,000 contribution could be offset by a tax credit.
UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes said Tuesday she didn’t have specific details about how much of a tax credit Pogo would be eligible to receive for its upcoming contribution.
Ganguli said the tax credit program has been a significant factor in boosting the fund. Global companies like Sumitomo consider where contributions can best be made, he said, and the attractive incentives in Alaska have provided UAF with unique leverage in landing them.
Ganguli said he hopes to boost the total size of the endowment to $5 million in the years ahead.
Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMbusiness.