Alaska’s potential mineral riches are drawing business interest as well as residents worried about mines operating near their homes.
The Fairbanks mining district is no exception, with plans by the Canadian-based company Avidian to look for gold.
Meanwhile, Doyon Limited, a major Interior employer, is forging partnerships with mineral exploration companies in other parts of the Interior.
There’s more in “5 Things to Know.”
Doyon digs the mineral economy
Doyon Limited’s land holdings represent a “mineral-rich swath of Alaska’s Interior that is nearly the size of Texas,” writes Shane Lasley, who publishes North of 60 Mining News, based in Eagle River.
With the global transition to smart technology, including electric vehicles, Alaska’s metals take on a greater importance for the local, state and national economy.
In an article titled “Partnerships unlock golden Doyon potential,” Lasley examined the vast land wealth and mineral opportunities of Doyon Limited, an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional corporation.
With offices in downtown Fairbanks and Anchorage, Doyon Limited is Alaska’s biggest private landowner and a major employer in Interior Alaska.
The company has 12.5 million acres “of surface and subsurface ownership across Interior Alaska,” according to Doyon. “Our region has the longest border with Canada, borders six other Alaska Native Corporation regions, has the longest rivers, and the largest number of roads.”
The superlatives do not end there.
Doyon Limited is one of the largest private landowners in North America. “In addition to an enormous gold endowment that has yet to be fully realized,” Lasley writes, “the Doyon region hosts a wide range of base, critical, and other precious metals – antimony, cobalt, copper, chromium, nickel, platinum group metals, rare earths, silver, tin, tungsten, and zinc are among the metals for which this region is renowned.”
Alaska gold rush, circa 2021
The historic Fairbanks mining district is attracting increasing interest as a gold mining area.
In the early 1900s, a gold discovery in the hills north of the Tanana and Chena rivers prompted a rush with thousands of claims staked. While the streets were not paved with gold, the promise of wealth led to towns established as prospectors moved to the area.
Now a new generation of gold diggers equipped with mining technology are re-discovering some of these historic areas for their mineral potential.
But the future of local mine development also concerns some neighbors where exploration is proposed or underway.
The latest kerfuffle involves activities by Avidian Gold Alaska, with headquarters in Canada, to explore for gold and other minerals near Ruby and Rex creeks in greater Fairbanks.
The Amanita mining project is south of Gilmore Trail Road and north of Amanita and Chena Hot Springs roads.
“It is inherently concerning that drilling will be followed by mining,” neighbor Tom Duncan told the News-Miner.
Dan Saddler, communications director at the Division of Natural Resources, said in an interview: “It is reasonable that 60 exploration holes, totaling 24,000 linear meters [15 miles], could be drilled on no more than five acres each year, over five years.”
For details, see the Oct. 13 News-Miner article: “Second Mineral Project Prompts Concerns.”
Global approach to Arctic climate change
Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Oct. 31, Arctic nations are discussing shared goals for the summit.
Alaska makes the U.S. an Arctic nation with geo-political and strategic interests in the region.
“The Arctic as we know it is changing fast,” Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said at the Arctic Circle Assembly that convened this week.
The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world.
The Arctic Circle Assembly brings together experts and political leaders with interest in the Arctic.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was among the scheduled speakers at the Arctic Circle Assembly.
The assembly is being held in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference, another high-profile summit where nearly 200 world leaders will focus on ways to mitigate climate change on a warming planet.
President Joe Biden will attend the UN Climate Change Conference, along with several Cabinet members, an indication of the emphasis the administration is placing on the meeting.
The conference will focus on goals of the Paris Agreement, an international treaty to tackle the negative impacts of climate change.
Murkowski has advocated for diverse solutions that include “breakthrough technologies” in carbon capture and storage, which involve trapping CO2 emissions.
Big Oil headed to Congress
Leaders from major oil companies are expected to testify at a congressional hearing this month on the role of fossil fuels in global warming.
The hearings are expected to touch on the companies’ own historical research on climate change.
Business leaders invited to speak are from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute.
Testimony before a House committee is scheduled to begin on Oct. 28.
The companies are likely to advance their own priorities, which include “pricing carbon, regulating methane and reliably producing American energy,” the American Petroleum Industry told The Guardian newspaper.
The hearing will also touch on research by the oil and gas industry dating back to the 1970s about the environmental dangers of burning fossil fuels, information that critics say was not disclosed to the public.
An off-label dose of Alaska politics
A state politician who is an outspoken advocate of the livestock dewormer ivermectin for Covid-19 has been diagnosed with the virus.
State Sen. Lora Reinbold disclosed on social media this week that she was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
On Facebook, Reinbold wrote: “It’s my turn to battle Covid head on … game on! Who do you think is going to win? When I defeat it, I will tell you my recipe.”
Her comments were picked up by the national press, including the New York Times and People magazine, as Alaska battles one of the biggest Covid-19 outbreaks in the country.
Reinbold’s diagnosis follows her high-profile positions against vaccine and mask mandates. Reinbold previously was banned from Alaska Airlines for refusing to wear a mask.
This week, she posted that she is taking ivermectin to treat her illness.
“I am so thankful for great vitamin supplements, Ivermectin and hydroxychlooquin and recommendations from my naturopath,” Reinbold said Friday in a Facebook post.
(Reinbold may have been referring to and misspelled hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that is not an approved Covid-19 treatment.)
The CDC has warned of a rise in calls to poison control centers from overdoses and bad side effects from people with Covid-19 taking ivermectin.
Merck, which makes ivermectin, has stated there is no scientific evidence that the dewormer works against Covid.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy seemed unaware of ivermectin’s off-label use as a Covid remedy, when asked several weeks ago about his views on the drug.
“I know what ivermectin is,” Dunleavy said. “I’ve had horses and mules, and you use it for worming and other issues that horses and mules have. But as far as prescribing it as a therapy for humans, I haven’t heard about that.”