More than a few mining gems from the Institute of the North
June 04, 2014
Anchorage, Alaska-based Institute of the North hosted a “Northern Regions Mining Summit” last week in Vancouver. The three day conference was extremely well organized and gathered approximately 130 delegates from northern regions.
Alaska Governor Walter J. Hickel, founder of the Institute of the North, believed strongly that we must understand the reality, the richness and the responsibility of the North. He championed “the commons” and how to care for commonly-owned lands and resources, in our state and beyond. Today, the Institute works to share that vision. Part of its work is to organize annual conferences related to northern themes.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Effective governance, sustainable communication”. The conference was ably chaired by Nils Andreassen who kept the pace fast and the atmosphere light.
A few interesting tidbits:
- Canada has 35 northern projects worth $35B under consideration.
- The Bureau of Lands Management in Alaska manages 1/8th of the US land mass. There is very little private land in Alaska. The BLM is only now, some 45 years after the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971), starting its land use planning process.
- Alaska has 15% of the world’s coal deposits, 5.5 T tonnes, much of it in northwest Alaska. It is low sulfur coal.
- Alaska’s mineral exploration expenditures were $330M in 2012, with a 30% decrease expected in 2013.
- Nunavut has 2/3rds of Canada’s coastline.
- Greenland started its own mine training program from scratch in the past 5 years and have put 230 students through the courses. The hot topic in Greenland is whether to import 3,000 Chinese workers to construct the giant Isua iron ore mine.
- Alaska represents 1/5 of the US land mass. Lands in the state have not been geologically mapped and at the current rate of mapping it will take 400 years to map all the lands. Access to land is a hot topic in Alaska, as is the encroachment of the EPA beyond its jurisdiction.
- Examples of aboriginal success stories were the giant Red Dog mine in Alaska which has 54% shareholder hire and the community of Rankin Inlet which has tapped into opportunities at the Meadowbank and Meliadine gold projects. (In Alaska natives are shareholders in 13 regional native corporations).
- Canadian company True North Gems is close (2014) to opening a small ruby mine in Greenland.
- Mining companies may require public infrastructure investment before major projects proceed. MMG has big plans for the Izok peninsula in Nunavut, but cannot afford the infrastructure investment. No development for now.
- Yukon’s efficient assessment regime was praised by some envious Alaska delegates.
The Institute of the North put on a wonderful conference. They are planning an energy-themed conference in Fairbanks in Sep-2015.