Elizabeth Bluemink reports: Alaskan Gold production highest since 1916 (Anchorage Daily News, November 8, 2009).
Fort Knox mine. Source: Kinross Gold Corporation.
Alaska produced about 800,000 ounces of gold in 2008 - the largest amount since 1916 ( High as that output is, Alaska currently only accounts for ten percent of U.S. gold production). Almost all, about 84 percent, came from two mines - the open pit Fort Knox mine near Fairbanks, and the underground Pogo mine near Delta Junction. About five percent of the gold came from small scale placer mining.
Fort Knox opened in 1997 and is currently scheduled to operate through 2019. High gold prices have made it possible to invest in extending mine life. New leach pads make it possible to extract gold from lower quality ore; planning is underway to dig the open pit deeper.
The Pogo had a rocky start in 2006, with high turnover of miners making it hard to produce the amounts of gold expected. Originally Teck Resources was the principle shareholder, it is now owned by Sumitomo Metal Mining Company (once a 40 percent share holder). The Pogo is currently expected to close in 2015.
Fort Knox employs about 480, while Pogo employs almost 300.Coming up: the Kensington mine north of Juneau should begin producing late in 2010 - production estimates are on the order of 120,000 ounces a year for 12 years. Further down the road - the giant Pebble mine near Nondalton (with an estimated 94 million ounces of gold) and the Donlin (with an estimated 30 million ounces).