From the Editor

The Beauty of Natural Resources

art of our mission at Alaska Business is to support businesses engaged in responsible resource development. This means we help spread the word about those companies that take the extra step to ensure the resources developed in Alaska are extracted with respect for the environment—both on land and sea. Whether they’re operating on public or private land, right next door to a village or town, or in the farthest reaches of the state, the majority of those who work in Alaska’s natural resource industry live here and have families and friends here, so they understand how important safe and responsible resource development is. It’s important to all of us that Alaska remains as glorious as it is; that it remains a bucket list location for Outside visitors and even for residents who, after spending a lifetime here, are still discovering splendid new hiking trails, striking new vistas, and even traveling to urban centers for the first time.The production value of the mining sector in 2018 was approximately $2.2 billion, according to the Resource Development Council for Alaska. That amount is divided between exploration and development investments. Minerals produced here include zinc, gold, silver, lead, copper, coal, rock, gravel, and sand. Minerals (primarily zinc and lead) are the state’s second largest export commodity, accounting for 36 percent of the state’s total export value in 2017.

Kathryn Mackenzie

Kathryn Mackenzie
Managing Editor, Alaska Business

And one very important aspect of resource development, and in particular mineral extraction, is its relationship to sustainable energy.

“Minerals are the fundamental building blocks for any modern technology, but they don’t just appear out of thin air,” US Senator Lisa Murkowski said during a hearing examining sourcing and use of minerals for clean energy. “As our energy sector transitions to greater use of renewables, we must acknowledge that these technologies are built from materials that come from the ground. Batteries don’t work without lithium, graphite, cobalt, and nickel; solar panels require silver gallium, indium, tellurium; and wind turbines are not just built from steel, but also aluminum, copper, and rare earth elements.”

The companies that operate here don’t just talk about the importance of keeping the environment healthy while finding the building blocks to create new sources of renewable energy–they put into practice the systems and safeguards necessary to protect Alaska’s wildlife, its people and cultures, and the land itself.

In this issue of Alaska Business, we feature the ongoing changes at Australian-based Northern Star Resources’ Pogo Mine, the eighth largest gold mine in the nation. At its peak, Pogo reached production of 300,000 ounces of gold annually. Today, Northern Star Resources is investing in new equipment (among other big changes) and expects gold production to reach 200,000 to 250,000 ounces in FY2020, up from the 183,555 ounces of gold produced in FY2019.

Also in the Resource Development special section are a profile of UAF’s Silver Fox Mine, where the next generation of resource development specialists gain hands-on mining experience, and the excellent, extremely-detailed overview of all of Alaska’s mines written by the incredible Mr. Curt Freeman, president of Avalon Development Corporation. Thank you Curt for (once again) providing our readers with your expertise on Alaska’s natural resources.

This is another exceptional issue focused on Alaska’s incredibly important natural resources sector. From mining updates to what exactly a hydrological environmental engineer does—this one’s a gem.