News-Miner opinion: Earlier this month, Kinross Gold Corp. announced it acquired additional mineral rights directly west of its Fort Knox Gold Mine. Known as Parcel G, this 709-acre tract of land contains an estimated 2.1 million ounces of gold. Going by Monday’s gold price, there could be more than $2.6 billion in gold beneath the surface of the site.
Parcel G could expand the life of the Fort Knox Gold Mine. This would be great for Fairbanks, so let’s hope Parcel G is mined.
Located about 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks, the open-pit Fort Knox Gold Mine has been producing gold for 20 years. It has produced more than 7 million ounces since opening and is the largest producer of gold in Alaska’s history.
The mine was expected to last 11 years, but technological advancements, such as the addition of heap leach — a chemical percolation process that was once thought to be impossible in this sub-arctic environment — have expanded the mine’s life.
Fort Knox’s largest expense is employee salaries — it employs more than 600 people. In 2016, $66 million went to Fort Knox employees. In the same year, Fort Knox paid $8.4 million in taxes to the Fairbanks North Star Borough. It is the second-largest taxpayer in the borough.