Mining Alaska Part I: Inside Alaska’s busiest mines – by Mallory Peebles ( – November 2, 2015)

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Alaska has been a prospector’s dream for more than a century. From the gold rush of the late 1800s to the 21st century, billions of dollars have been invested in the exploration and extraction of minerals.

According to the Alaska Miners Association, about 4,400 jobs come directly from mining with the number nearly doubling to 8,700 with indirect jobs included. Indirect jobs include contract work like food service and maintenance that takes place at many of the mines’ on-site housing areas.

“We have a saying that we just don’t get to pick where we discover these mineral deposits,” says Deantha Crocket with the Alaska Miners Association. “As luck would have it, they’re generally not on the road, rail and not on the ocean port.” Alaska has 6 producing mines located across the state.

South of Juneau on Admiralty Island is Greens Creek Mine, which largely produces silver but also mines zinc, gold and lead. It employs more than 400 people according to the miners association.

North of Juneau is Kensington Mine, which produced more than 100,000 ounces of gold in 2014 the Miners Association says. Currently, it’s in the process of exploring another body of ore.

Interior Alaska has three mines, two producing gold and one coal.

Usibelli Coal Mine is the state’s only producing coal mine. A family run operation since before statehood, Joe Usibelli Jr. says he is proud to provide the lowest cost energy and heating source for interior Alaska. Usibelli supplies more than 37 percent of interior Alaska’s energy according to the Alaska Energy Authority. It employs about 115 people.

Pogo Mine is an underground gold mine Southeast of Fairbanks. As of 2014, it employed about 320 full time employees, according to Alaska Miners Association.

Fort Knox Gold mine has two open pits and is Alaska’s largest producing gold mine with about 650 employees.

162 miles north of the Arctic circle is Red Dog Mine. Red Dog Mine employs nearly 500 people, with 42 percent of those being regional shareholders. The land is owned by NANA but mined by the company Teck. Red Dog Mine is considered to have a world class zinc deposit.

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