Gold mining in Alaska


Gold mining in Alaska

Gold mining in Alaska, a state of the United States, has been a major industry and impetus for exploration and settlement since a few years after the United States acquired the territory from Russia. Russian explorers discovered placer gold in the Kenai River in 1848, but no gold was produced. Gold mining started in 1870 from placers southeast of Juneau, Alaska. [A.H. Koschman and M.H. Bergendahl (1968) "Principal Gold-Producing Districts of the United States", U.S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 610, p.8.]

Gold is found and has been mined throughout Alaska; except in the vast swamps of the Yukon Flats, and along the North Slope between the Brooks Range and the Beaufort Sea. Areas near Fairbanks, Juneau, and Nome are responsible for most of Alaska's historical and current gold production. Nearly all of the large and many of the small placer gold mines currently operating in the US are in Alaska. [http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/gold/gold_mcs07.pdf] Three large-scale hard rock mines produce gold in Alaska, as well as some small-scale hard rock operations. Alaska currently produces more gold (570,000 troy oz in 2006, most of it from the three large hard rock mines) than any state except Nevada. [http://www.nma.org/pdf/g_production.pdf] Alaska produced a total of 39.4 million troy ounces of gold from 1880 through the end of 2006.http://"Alaskas Mineral Industry 2006, Zumigal and Hughes, DGGS Special Report 61"www.dggs.dnr.state.ak.us/webpubs/dggs/sr/text/sr061.PDF]

outheast Alaska

Porcupine district

Over 81,000 ounces of placer gold came from the Porcupine district near Haines. Porcupine Creek, about convert|20|mi|km north of Haines, is the site of an 1898 gold discovery; the creek has been intermittently placer mined ever since. Outside of the Porcupine basin only a few other creek; Glacier, Nugget, and Cottonwood, produced significant gold. The area around Reid Inlet, in modern Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, hosted several hard rock gold prospects, including the LeRoy mine, which exploited quartz veins for about 10,000 ounces of gold production.The district, which includes Skagway and Haines, is bordered to the north and east by Canada. To the west is the Pacific Ocean and the Chichagoff District lies to the south.

Juneau district

"See main article: Juneau mining district"

In 1880 a local inhabitant, Chief Kowee, revealed to prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris the presence of gold in what is now named Gold Creek in Silver Bow Basin. The city of Juneau was founded there that year. The strike sparked the Juneau gold rush which resulted in the development of many placer and lode mines including the largest, in their time, gold mines in the world: the Treadwell complex of lode mines on Douglas Island (across a narrow sea channel from Juneau) and the AJ lode mine, in Juneau itself.

Over 7 million ounces of lode gold and 80,000 ounces of placer gold have been recovered from the Juneau district.

Admiralty district

"See main article: Admiralty mining district"

Most of the gold recovered from the Admiralty mining district (which consists of Admiralty Island) is a by product of silver and base metal mining. The Alaska Empire underground lode mine recovered gold from quartz veins in metamorphic rocks. Discovered and staked in the 1920s, production of about 20,000 tonnes of 0.25 ounce-per-ton gold ore occurred in the mid-1930s. The Funter Bay underground lode mine produced about 500 thousand tonnes of copper-nickel-cobalt ore, without gold, from a Mesozoic gabbro-norite pipe. No significant placer mining was done on Admiralty. About 500,000 ounces of gold, almost all from the currently-operating Greens Creek lode silver mine, have been recovered from the Admiralty district.

Chichagof district

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Approximately 800,000 ounces of gold have come from the Chichagof district. Chichagof, Yakobi, Baranof and smaller islands comprise the district.Alaskas Mineral Industry 2006, Alaska DGGS Special Report 61, 2006 ] Numerous lode and placer prospects and mines exist in the district. Major production came from underground lode mines exploiting gold-in-quartz veins.

Apex-El Nido mine

The Apex-El Nido produced perhaps 50,000 ounces of gold from a mile of underground workings exploiting polymetallic quartz veins.http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/ardf_data/Sitka.pdf]

Hirst-Chichagof mine

From 1922 to 1933 the Hirst-Chichagof produced 133,000 ounces of gold and 33,000 ounces of silver from polymetallic quartz veins assaying nearly 1 ounce of gold per ton. There are over a mile of underground workings, reaching convert|2000|ft|m below the surface. Significant reserves remain, which have attracted exploration efforts in the 1980s and 1990's.

Chichagof mine

The Chichagof mine opened in 1905 and by 1942 had yielded 660,000 ounces of gold and 195,000 ounces of silver from quartz veins assaying over 1 oz gold per ton. There were several miles of workings on 5 levels. Six shafts reached a maximum of convert|2750|ft|m below sea level.Between 1981 and 1988 several thousand feet of new workings were dug, and engineering and environmental studies were done, but the project was abandoned.

Petersburg-Sumdum district

15,000 ounces of gold from placers, came from the Petersburg-Sumdum district which consists of; Zarembo, Etolin, and Wrangell Islands, and the mainland between the Juneau and Ketchikan districts. Many small lode deposits were located in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The most significant lode producer was the Sumdum Chief, which was discovered in 1889 and operated until exhausted in 1903. 24,000 ounces of gold were extracted from two quartz veins averaging ore of about 0.39 ounces per ton of both gold and silver. The mine reached a depth of convert|1200|ft|m and had a ten-stamp mill. In Windham Bay, a cluster of mineral claim holdings were consolidated in the 1920s; the Jensen mine was the most productive of these, producing about 50 ounces of gold. Several aerial tramways, thousands of feet long, connected various adits and mills. [http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/ardf_data/Sumdum.pdf]

Ketchikan district

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Approximately 58,000 ounces of lode gold and 4000 ounces of placer gold have come from the Ketchikan district, consisting of Dall, Prince of Wales, Revillagigedo, and smaller islands, as well some mainland, in the southernmost-part of Alaska. Numerous historical lode mines and prospects for base metals, uranium, rare earth elements (REE's), iron, and platinum group elements (PGE's), as well as gold exist in the Ketchikan district. Major gold production came from underground lode mines exploiting: gold-bearing quartz veins in metamorphic rocks (such as the Gold Standard, Sea Level, Dawson, Golden Fleece, and Goldstream mines); skarns (at the Jumbo and Kassan Peninsula copper-gold mines); zoned mafic-ultramafic plutons, as at the Salt Chuck silver-gold-copper-PGE mine; and VMS deposits such as Niblack.

Interior Alaska, north of the Yukon River

Chandalar District

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The Chandalar district is the area around the upper drainage of the Chandalar River, includes some southern foothills of the Brooks Range, and extends to the crest of the Brooks Range. Discovery of placer gold in 1906 was quickly followed by lode discoveries. Most of the placer-producing creeks drain the area of lode mineralization. [http://uaf-db.uaf.edu/Jukebox/haul_road_07/assets/docs/sw_wiseman_study.pdf "University of Alaska, Fairbanks: The Wiseman Historican District"] The district produced about 48,000 ounces of placer gold and 17,000 ounces of lode gold.

Little Squaw Creek

Little Squaw Creek drains an area cut by many auriferous veins. Some of the placers in the basin are exceptionally rich. By 1916 most of the shallow placers were playing out so miners shifted their interest to the placer drift mines (underground operations). The most notable of these is the Little Squaw Bench, including the Mellow Bench. Approximately 29,000 ounces of gold were recovered averaging 1.0 oz/cubic yard of gold in the gravels with spikes of up to 4.6 oz/cubic yard. Some individual nuggets were over 10 ounces. "Alaska Resource Data Files, Chandalar quad, USGS Open file report 00-357"http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/ardf_data/Chandalar.pdf]

Little Squaw and Mikado lodes

In 1909 to 1915 development and underground gold mining occurred at the Little Squaw, with a few hundred feet of workings built and a few dozen ounces of gold recovered. The nearby Mikado mine enjoyed similar efforts around 1913. In the 1960s , 1970's and 1980's additional work was done. These later efforts probably recovered more than 10,000 ounces of gold.Significant efforts resumed in 2006, and are ongoing, to explore the Little Squaw placer and lode deposits. [ [http://www.littlesquawgold.com/lsg2/pages/ls_prop_chan_over.htm Little Squaw Gold Mining Company - Chandalar ] ]

Koyukuk-Nolan district

The district encompasses the upper Koyokuk River basin including the Alatna and Kanuti rivers and the village of Bettles. The district extends from the southern flank of the Brooks Range to the northern Ray Mountains, and is directly west of the Chandalar district. Much of the district is now in Gates of the Arctic National Park. Gold was discovered in placer deposits in the district in 1901. About 350,000 ounces of placer gold have been won from the area, perhaps 85% of it from near Wiseman. Mining continues today in the district.Much of the district is underlain by bedded Paleozoic rocks, a schist belt extends along the southern foothills of the Brooks Range. Cretaceous plutons intrude metamorphic rocks in the southern part of the district. Pleistocene ice sheets from the Brooks Range and cirque glaciers in the Ray Mountains covered much of the higher elevations. Glaciers are now restricted to the highest cirques of the Brooks Range.Placer Deposits of Alaska, USGS Bulletin 1374]

Nolan Creek

Miners produced 135,000 ounces of gold from Nolan Creek between 1904 and 1999. Some of the placer gold is mined by underground methods in frozen gravels. A 42-troy ounce nugget, Alaska's twentieth-largest, came from Marys Bench on Nolan Creek. Placer mining activity continues, with a reserve of 114,760 ounces of gold reported in 2000.

Hammond River

Mining occurred on the Hammond River, a tributary of the Koyukuk River, from about 1900 to at least 2000. Exact production is unknown, it is estimated at about 30,000 ounces. Most of the gold was recovered by underground drifting of a frozen deep paleo-channel. Much of the gold was coarse: the third (146 troy oz.), fourth (137 troy oz.), 14th (61 troy ounces), and 17th (55 troy ounces) largest gold nuggets in Alaska were found on the Hammond.

Hughes District

The Hughes district includes the basin of the lower Koyukuk River (below the Kanuti). Much of the area is a swampy, lake-studded lowland, from which rises rounded hills to elevations of several thousand feet.

Placer mines in the Zane Hills on Bear Creek, a tributary of the Hogatza River, are the biggest source of gold from the district. Placer deposits clustered near the village of Hughes and Indian Mountain are the other significant source of placer gold from the district. The district has produced about 245,000 ounces, with traces of copper, lead, zinc, tin, silver and platinum.

Melozitna District

On the northern side of the Yukon River, between the Melotizna and Ray rivers, most of the district is rolling ridges with upmost elevations over convert|5000|ft|m, where now-gone Pleistocene cirque glaciers developed. Placer gold was discovered in 1907, but activity was sporadic and poorly recorded. About 10,000 ounces of gold, with significant by-product tin, was won from placer deposits by the 1960s.

Interior Alaska, south of the Yukon River

Kaiyuh District

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Illinois Creek Mine

The mine is located in the remote Kaiyuh Mountains of west-central Alaska about convert|40|mi|km south of the Yukon River village of Galena. The Illinois Creek lode gold-silver mine exploited a shear-hosted gold deposit which was partly expressed as color anomalies visible from aircraft. Located on State of Alaska land, it was discovered in the 1980s. In February 1996 a feasibility study was completed, with the deposit estimated to contain about 350,000 ounces of gold and 2,500,000 ounces of silver. Construction began the next month, but was halted by winter conditions in November. By then, with the development uncompleted and six-million more than the total mine construction-and-operating budget of 26-million dollars already spent, USMX, the mining company that owned Illinois Creek, was millions of dollars in arrears on invoices and short on cash [ [http://sec.edgar-online.com/1997/03/31/00/0000848448-97-000003/Section7.asp USMX INC Annual Report (10-K) Liquidity and Capital Resources ] ] . New financing allowed construction to resume in 1997; the mine poured its first gold in June 1997. In 1998 the company entered bankruptcy. In 1999 the State of Alaska assumed control of the mine. A mine-to-reclaim arrangement between the state and a newly-involved mining contractor resulted in the reclamation and closure of the mine by 2005. A bond is in place to provide environmental monitoring for 30 years. [ [http://www.northern.org/artman/publish/illc.shtml Northern Alaska Environmental Center :: Mining :: Illinois Creek ] ] .

Ruby-Poorman District

"See main article: Ruby-Poorman mining district"

The Ruby-Poorman District produced nearly a half million ounces of gold, all from placer mines. Some of the largest gold nuggets found in Alaska are from the district, which lies south of the Yukon River. [Alaska Resource Data Files "http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/ardf_data/RB_refs.txt"] The placers are mostly deeply buried, and most were originally worked with shafts and drifts. Dozens of creeks in the district were mined, many more bear gold prospects. Cassiterite, platinum, scheelite, allanite, and native bismuth have been recovered along with gold from placer mines in the district. [Significant Metalliferous Lode Deposits and Placer Deposits of Alaska, Nokleberg, et.al., USGS Bulletin 1786, 1987]

Hot Springs District

This district, which produced about 576,000 ounces, includes placer mines at Manley and Eureka.

Rampart district

Nearly 200,000 ounces of gold was recovered from placer mines in the district.

Circle district

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Over 1 million ounces of gold have been recovered from placer deposits in the Circle district. Uplands with thousands of feet of generally mild relief are underlain by a complex metamorphic terrane intruded by a broad range of igneous rocks. Many gold occurrences are known, but no gold lodes are identified. Placer mining has been reported for every year since 1894.

Eagle district

This small district includes the village of Eagle on the Yukon River, and borders Canada. About 50,000 ounces of gold, all from placer deposits, has been recovered from the district since gold was discovered in 1895 on American Creek and the Seventy-mile River.

Tolovana-Livengood district

Livengood is about convert|50|mi|km northwest of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway. In July, 1914 Jay Livengood and N.R. Hudson discovered gold on Livengood Creek. Hundreds of people arrived in the district the following winter. A post office existed at Livengood from 1915 to 1957. Only a few dozen people live at Livengood today, some only seasonally. A variety of creeks in the district were mined. Many gold lode occurrences are known and exploration continues for open pittable lode deposits. Over 500,000 ounces of gold have been recovered from placers in the district. ["Alaska Dept. of Commerce, Community and Economic Development"http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/dca/commdb/CF_CIS.htm]

Early development and production was from relatively shallow pay in tributaries of Livengood Creek. By 1939, large, deeply buried (80 to 110 feet), thawed, bench placer deposits on the northwest limit of Livengood Creek valley were defined. The pay streak varied from 100 to convert|1000|ft|m wide and was at least convert|6|mi|km long. Gold reserves of over 1 million ounces were defined by drilling prior to 1940. A dredge operated near the town of Livengood in 1940, 1946 and probably other years. ["http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/quads/html/Livengood.html Alaska Resource Data Files"]

Alaska's 12th-largest (73 troy ounces) and 16th-largest (56 troy ounces) nuggets were found in the district, on Dome Creek.

Fairbanks district

"See main article: Fairbanks mining district"

Placer mining began near Fairbanks in July 1902, after Felix Pedro (real name Felice Pedroni), an Italian immigrant and Tom Gilmore discovered gold in the hills north of the Tanana and Chena Rivers in 1901. The district was and is a major producer of gold from both placer and lode deposits: placers have produced over 8 million troy ounces (250 tonnes) of gold, lodes have yielded over 4 million ounces. [http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/ardf_data/Fairbanks.pdf]

Goodpaster district

Only a few thousand ounces of gold from placer mines, and a few hundred ounces from lode gold mines were produced from the Goodpaster district before the discovery of Pogo. The district is west of the Fairbanks and south of the Circle district.

Pogo mine (operating)

The recently discovered and built Pogo mine is located on a hillside above the Goodpaster River, about convert|85|mi|km south-east of Fairbanks, Alaska. The deposit was discovered in 1994 by the Sumitomo companies on land owned by the State of Alaska. A private convert|49|mi|km|sing=on gravel road and power line now connects the mine to the Richardson Highway corridor near Delta Junction. The mine is an underground operation that exploits two large (several-meters thick) and high-grade (averaging almost 0.5 ounces of gold per ton of ore) gold-bearing quartz veins. Approximately half of the tailings are returned underground, the rest are disposed of on the surface. The mine is operated by Teck-Cominco, the same company operating the world's largest zinc mine; the Red Dog mine in northwest Alaska. The first gold dore bar at Pogo was poured on February 12, 2006. 190 people were employed at the mine in 2007.

In early 2007 Pogo contained reserves of 5.6 million ounces of gold in ore grading 0.41 opt gold. Projected mine life is ten years.

Fortymile district

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The 1886 discovery of gold on Franklin's Bar on the Fortymile River touched off Interior Alaska's first gold rush. The mining boom ushered in a wave of settlement that forever changed the place, not only for its new residents but for the Athabascan Indians who occupied this region long before them. The miners who prospected nearly every creek in the region eventually extracted more than a half-million ounces of gold from the Fortymile, including a 56.8 troy ounce nugget, Alaska's 15th-largest. [http://www.akmining.com/mine/nuggets.htm Alaska's Largest Gold Nuggets ] ] Reports of starvation and lawlessness among the miners resulted in the Army sending troops to the Eagle area to provide law enforcement in 1899. Soldiers soon began work on a trail from Valdez to Eagle. ["http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/prog/sa/fortymile_nwsr/history_and_natural.html BLM: Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River"]

Gold was first discovered in the Chicken Creek drainage in 1896, 10 years after the gold discovery on the Fortymile River. The F.E. Company, a subsidiary of the U.S. Smelting Refining & Mining Co., acquired most of the claims during the 1940s and dredged convert|2|mi|km of the creek from 1959 to 1967. Since then, several family operations have mined on the creek. It is estimated that over 100,000 ounces of gold has been produced from the Chicken Creek drainage.

The beginning of the end of the Fortymile Gold Rush came in August 1896 when George Carmack reported the first gold strike along the Klondike River in Canada. Within a few years the once-booming towns in the Fortymile region were abandoned and forgotten. Some of the original Fortymile miners returned to the area after the Klondike Gold Rush passed. From 1887-1890 the Upper Yukon region was the richest and most productive mining area in the region. During those three years the area produced 1,200,000 ounces of gold, accounting for 5 percent of Alaska's total gold production. ["http://ntis.library.gatech.edu/handle/123456789/9092 Early Miners of the Fortymile (A BLM Alaska 'Adventures in the Past' Series)"]

Chisana-White River district

Gold production from this area is balanced between 78,000 ounces of placer and 66,000 ounces of lode gold. Directly south of the Fortymile district, the Chisana district includes headwaters of the Nabesna and White rivers, and tributaries of the Tanana River; it includes parts of the Wrangell Mountains and the Alaska Range. Difficulties of location, lack of water, and small deposit size limited placer activity.The Nabesna underground lode mine produced gold-copper-silver ore between 1930 and WWII.

Kantishna district

The Kantishna Gold Rush began soon after "The Nome Nugget" printed the headline “FOUND HIGH GRADE GOLD” on September 9, 1903. Located on the north flanks of Denali (Mt. McKinley), the District was a hard place to operate a mine. Nevertheless, some of the largest gold nuggets found in Alaska have been found in the area, including the 9th largest (92 troy ounces). 92,000 ounces of placer gold and 8000 ounces of gold from lode mines has come from the district. Today, the district is located within Denali National Park and Preserve. ["National Park Service: Pioneers of Kantishna, NPS"]

outhwestern Alaska

Kuskokwim Gold Belt

The Kuskokwim Gold Belt (KGB, also known as the Kuskokwim Mineral Belt) is a broad loosely geologically and geographically defined swath of country arcing for approximately convert|300|mi|km across southwest Alaska. It lies northwest of the Alaska Range and is roughly centered on the Kuskokwim River basin. Geologically it is dominated by flysch of Cretaceous-age Kuskokwim Group sediments and a variety of igneous rocks. It also includes a variety of exotic terranes. The KGB lies mostly within the southwestern part of the Tintina Gold Province or "Golden Arch" which lies roughly between the Denali-Farewell and Kaltag-Tintina fault systems and arcs up from southwest Alaska, through central Alaska, and down across the Yukon Territory to British Columbia.Economic Geology Monograph 9, Mineral Deposits of Alaska, Precious Metals Associated with Late Cretaceous-Early Tertiary Igneous Rocks of Southwestern Alaska, Bundtzen and Miller, 1997, pp242-286 ] ["GEOLOGIC REPORT SH02EXE-1,SUMMARY REPORTFOR THE SHOTGUN GOLD PROSPECT,KUSKOKWIM MINERAL BELT,ALASKA,Avalon Development Corp for NovaGold Resources, 2002"http://www.novagold.net/upload/technical_reports/ShotgunReportApril2002.pdf] ["Tintina Gold Province, Alaska and Yukon Territory, 2002, 2007, USGS"http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2007/3061/fs2007-3061.pdf] [ http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/AEIS/Bethel/Minerals/Bethel_Minerals_Narrative.htm "DCED Bethel Census Area: Minerals"]

The KGB includes all or parts of the historic Aniak/Tuluksak, Anvik, Bethel, Goodnews Bay, Iditarod-Flat, Innoko, Marshall, McGrath, Ruby, and Tolstoi mining districts, as well as newly-realized gold-rich areas. [ [http://www.adn.com/money/story/256339.html adn.com | Money : Mining ventures see potential in Southwest ] ] Over 3.2 million ounces of gold have been recovered from the belt. [ [http://www.alaskaminers.org/ME200423.pdf For more than a decade, changes have occurred each year that have improved the regulatory and business climate for mining in A ] ]

The first mineral discovery by the Russians in Alaska (a cinnabar-stibnite deposit) occurred in the Aniak district in 1838. Pay gold was found in 1901 on tributaries of the Kuskokwim River in the Aniak district.

Marshall-Anvik District

The Marshall and Anvik districts produced about 124,000 ounces of gold and minor amounts of platinum, mainly from Wilson Creek.The district has the Bering Sea to the west, the Yukon River to the south, and the Iditarod and Kaiyuh districts to the east.

Aniak District

Infobox Settlement
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About 220,000 ounces of gold produced, mainly from the Tuluksuk River (where the town of Nyac is located) and Crooked Creek basins and with lesser production from Wattamuse and other creeks scattered around the district. Mining continues at present, but reserves are not known. Cinnabar (mercury sulfide) occurs in many of the placer mines in this district, most notably at Cinnabar Creek.

Donlin Creek (advanced exploration)

Placer mining began on benches and tributaries on the east side of Crooked Creek and its tributary Donlin Creek in 1910; a family-scale placer-mining operation continues today. Granitic dike swarms cutting the shales and sandstones of the Kuskokwim Group rocks in the hills east of upper Crooked Creek were recognized by USGS geologists in 1915 as the probable source of the placer gold. [Maddren, A. G., 1915, "Gold Placers of the lower Kuskokwim with a note on copper in the Russian Mountains", USGS Bulletin 622,p292-360]

In the 1970s Calista Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation, as part of its land grant under ANSCA selected the land east of Crooked Creek, based on its mineral potential. In 1986 modern hardrock exploration of the Donlin area began with WestGold's efforts, which were abandoned after two years, due not to the lack of gold, but to the refractory (technically difficult to extract from the rock) nature of the gold. PlacerDome signed a lease with Calista and began exploration at Donlin in 1995. That effort continues today, having evolved to a partnership between Barrick Gold and NovaGold Resources. Over 150 million dollars have been expended on exploration, engineering, and environmental studies.

If eventually exploited, the mine will be an open pit several miles wide. Latest estimates (June 2008) report that Donlin contains a Measured and Indicated resource of 31.7 million ounces of gold at a grade of 2.5 grams per tonne of ore, calculated at a long-term gold price of $750 ounce. [ [http://www.novagold.com/section.asp?pageid=8584 NovaGold Resources Inc ] ] The gold occurs within the crystal lattice of arsenopyrite associated with other metal sulfides in veins, veinlets, and disseminations mainly in the felsic dikes, but also in less common altered mafic dikes and in the sediments.

Iditarod District

The Iditarod district lies between the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers: the Aniak district abuts it to the south. A gold rush followed the discovery of gold on Otter Creek in 1909. Over 1.5 million ounces of placer gold and a few thousand ounces of lode gold have been recovered from the Iditarod area, making it one of the more important gold-ming districts in Alaska. Much of the gold-producing ground in the district was consolidated by the Morgan-Guggenheim consortium.

Innoko District

The Aniak district lies to the south, the Iditarod district to the west. Almost 3/4 million ounces of gold, virtually all of it from placers, has been won from the district.

Ganes Creek

The property is located approximately 40 km west of McGrath, and 440 km northwest of Anchorage. Ganes is famous for producing spectacular gold nuggets including the 5th (122 troy ounces) and 13th-largest (62.5 troy ounce) in Alaska. The presence of cobble-size quartz with sulfide boxwork and coarse gold suggest that the placer gold is primary, originating from bedrock sources. Historic production figures from Ganes Creek are in excess of 250,000 oz. gold, and an additional 736,000 oz. of placer gold in a resource on patented claims. ["Press Release, Full Metal Minerals"]

McGrath-McKinley district

Almost 200,000 ounces of lode gold and over 130,000 ounces of placer gold has come from the district. The district lies on the northeast side of the Aniak district.

The Nixon Fork mine (under development)

The Nixon Fork mine is an underground lode gold-copper mine located convert|32|mi|km northeast of McGrath, Alaska. Placer gold was discovered nearby in 1917, by 1918 hardrock mining was underway, and continued intermitantly until 1964. The mine was reopened for exploration, permitted, and developed by Nevada Goldfields, Inc. in 1995 and operated until 1999. Production has totaled 178,000 ounces of gold, 2,190,000 pounds of copper, and at least 11,000 ounces of silver. [ [http://www.standrewgoldfields.com/SiteResources/ViewContent.asp?DocID=127&v1ID=&RevID=154&lang=1 St. Andrew Goldfields ] ] Two small ore bodies have proven and probable reserves of approximately 126,400 tonnes, containing 133,730 ounces of gold. An additional 116,000 tonnes of existing mill tailings are reported to contain 30,200 ounces of gold. ["Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources: The Nixon Fork Mine"] In 2005 resource and exploration development, by St. Andrews Goldfields, resumed. Ore consists of shoots of massive sulfides and native gold found with skarns along the contact of sedimentary rocks and the Mystery Creek quartz monzonite stock.

Goodnews Bay District

Infobox Settlement
name = Goodnews Bay mining district
official_name =
settlement_type = Alaska Mining District
nickname =
motto =

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The district is in extreme southwestern Alaska, and borders the Bering Sea. About 600,000 ounces of platinum (plus some iridium, osmium, ruthenium, palladium, and rhenium) and 27,000 ounces of gold were won from placer deposits in the Salmon River from 1934 to 1976. Present reserves are unknown, but are the subject of ongoing exploration. The source of the platinum-group elements appears to be in the Red Mountain and Susie Mountain ultramafic rocks. Extensive geochemical and geophysical surveys during the past several years have identified areas with as much as 0.1 ounce per ton platinum in the soils, but no reserve has been demonstrated.

eward Peninsula

Surveyors belonging to the 1865 Count Bendeleben expedition exploring a route across Siberia, the Bering Sea, and Alaska for a communications cable reported gold in the Fish River area of the Seward Peninsula. But it was not until the 1898 $1500-to-the-pan strike on Anvil Creek that gold-seekers came to the region. [ [http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/dca/commdb/CIS.cfm Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs ] ]

Nome (Cape Nome) district

"See main article, Nome mining district"

Placer gold deposits on Anvil Creek and on the Snake River, a few miles from the future site of Nome, were discovered in 1898 by the "Three Lucky Swedes". Word of the strike caused a major gold rush to Nome in the spring of 1899. A new hardrock gold mine is now being built and is expected to commence production in 2008. NovaGold's Rock Creek project has two components; the Rock Creek mine and mill complex seven miles (11 km) north of Nome and the historic underground Big Hurrah mine site convert|42|mi|km east. Over 3.6 million ounces of gold have been recovered from the Nome district, almost all of it from placer deposits.

Council-Solomon District

Infobox Settlement
name = Council mining district
official_name =
settlement_type = Alaska Mining District
nickname =
motto =

|pushpin_

pushpin_label_position =left
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latd = 64 |latm = 40 |lats = |latNS = N
longd = 164 |longm = 19 |longs = |longEW = W

Over a million ounces of gold are reported recovered from the district..

Fairhaven Inmachuk District

The Fairhaven-Inmachuk district lies north of the Solomon District and extends north to Kotzebue Sound of the Chukchi Sea. The district (including Candle) produced about 600,000 ounces of gold with minor amounts of chromium, copper, lead, platinum, bismuth, tungsten, mercury, molybdenum, silver, and rare-earth elements. ["http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/AEIS/NWAB/Minerals/NWAB_Minerals_Narrative.htm DCED Northwest Arctic Borough: Minerals"]

Kougarak district

The district is the central part of the Seward Peninsula, draining into the Imruck Basin. Gold was discovered in 1900 and production from placer mines continues to this day. 177,000 ounces of gold have been won from the Kougarak district.

Koyuk district

84,000 ounces of placer gold came from the district, the southeastern part of the Seward Peninsula. Major producers were; the Ungalik River and it's tributary, Bonanza Creek, which produced significant by-product tin, and Dime Creek, which also produced significant platinum. The district encompasses the basins of the Koyuk, Inglutalik, Ungalik, and Shaktolik Rivers, all draining into northeastern Norton Sound.

Port Clarence district

Mainly a tin district, the westernmost Seward Peninsula, 42,000 ounces of placer gold have been recovered, much of it as a by-product of tin mining.

outhcentral Alaska

Resurrection Creek

Resurrection Creek was the site of Alaska's first gold rush over a century ago, and placer mining continues today. The Resurrection Creek watershed drains convert|161|sqmi|km2 on the north side of the Kenai Peninsula, and the community of Hope, Alaska is located at the mouth of Resurrection Creek. ["http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-IMPACT/2008/January/Day-28/i347.htm U.S. Environmental Protection Agency"] Charles Miller located the first claim on Resurrection Creek; then leased it to others for working. By 1893, about a dozen miners were working claims on Resurrection Creek. In1894, more claims were established on Resurrection Creek. [" Mining in Alaska's Past, Alaska Historical Society,1980"]

Valdez Creek

Gold was discovered near Valdez Creek on August 15, 1903. Valdez Creek, a tributary of the Susitna River, is located in central Alaska northeast of milepost 81 on the Denali Highway. A 52-troy ounce nugget (Alaska's 18th-largest) came from Lucky Gulch, a tributary of Valdez Creek. Cambior's Valdez Creek Mine recovered over 75,000 ounces of gold annually, making it the largest placeroperation in North America in 1992. Produced 459,162 ounces of gold from 1984 to 1995. Substantial reserves remain upstream of the active mine. ["http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/AEIS/MatSu/Minerals/MatSu_Minerals_Narrative.htm"] The mine has been shut down and the site reclaimed, but other small-scale placer and lode deposits remain nearby. ["http://www.blm.gov/heritage/adventures/research/StatePages/PDFs/ValdezCreek.pdf"]

Chulitna-Yentna Mineral Belt

The Chulitna-Yentna mineral belt extends northeastward for convert|100|mi|km or more along the southern flank of the west-central Alaska Range. The belt shares tectonic or compositional features comparable with some well-known mineral belts of the western Cordillera, including the Juneau gold belt.

Chulitna District

Golden Zone Mine

Golden Zone Mine. (Copper, gold, silver, arsenic, zinc). Pipe-like body produced 1,581 ounces of gold, 8,617 ounces of silver, and 21 tons of copper. Recent work indicates reserves of the Pipe, Bunkhouse and Copper King deposits as 13.3 million tons grading 0.095 ounces per ton of gold. ["http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/AEIS/MatSu/Minerals/MatSu_Minerals_Narrative.htm Matanuska-Susitna Census Area: Minerals State of Alaska, DCED"]

Yentna Cache-Creek District

See main article: "Yentna Cache-Creek Mining District"

Gold was discovered in the Yentna District (also known as the Cache Creek District) of the upper Susitna Valley in 1898, soon followed by claim staking. Placer mining was reported in the Cache Creek drainage of the Dutch Hills by 1906. Quaternary glaciofluvial deposits, alluvial deposits, and Tertiary conglomeratic white quartz-breccia units have been mined in the Dutch Hills. About 200,000 ounces (6.2 tonnes) of gold has been produced from these placer deposits. [C.C. Hawley and A.L. Clark, (1973) "Geology and Mineral Deposits of the Chulitna-Yentna Mineral Belt, Alaska", US Geological Survey, Professional Paper 758-A.]

Willow Creek Mining District

"See main article: Willow Creek mining district"

Gold was first reported in what would become the Willow Creek Mining District (also known as the Independence Mine/Hatcher Pass District) by Robert Hatcher. Hatcher discovered and staked the first lode gold claim in the Willow Creek Valley in September 1906. Through 2006 the district produced 667-thousand ounces of hard rock gold and 60-thousand ounces of placer gold.

Northwestern Alaska

Drainage basins emptying into Norton Sound of the Bering Sea, including the Noatak River and Kobuk River, define the Kiana, Shungnak, Noatak, and Selawick, districts. The Noatak district is now within the Noatak National Preserve, only tiny gold placer production was recorded from some tributaries near the Noatak headwaters. The Selawick district has one creek where gold was produced by a 2-man operation for ten years during the 1950s and 1960's. Infobox Settlement
name = Kiana and Shugnak mining district
official_name =
settlement_type = Alaska Mining District
nickname =
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=Kiana district=

Placer gold was discovered on Klery Creek in 1909. Almost all of the gold, over 40,000 ounces, from this area has come from tributaries of the Squirrel River. Mining has been nearly continuous in this area since discovery. Nephrite jade also occurs in this area.

Shungnak district

All of the 15,000 ounces of gold recovered came from streams draining the Cosmos Hills, a low range along the Kobuk Valley. Gold was discovered on Dahl Creek in 1898, which was the major producer. Copper, chromium, cadmium, and silver, were also recovered with the gold.

Current activity

Placer mining

Placer mining continues throughout Alaska. All of these operations are seasonal, none employ more than a few dozen people. Many of them are family operations with roots reaching back several generations. In 2007, an estimated 210 placer mines produced 70,000 ounces of gold. ["Alaska Miners Association"]

Large-scale hard rock operations currently producing gold

* The Greens Creek mine in the Admiralty mining district, primarily a silver-lead-zinc mine, which produced 73,000 troy ounces (2.3 tonnes) of gold in 2006. [D. J. Szumigala, "Alaska", "Mining Engineering", May 2007, p.66.]
* Fort Knox, in the Fairbanks mining district, which produced 333,000 troy ounces (10.3 tonnes) of gold in 2006.
* Pogo, which produced 112,000 troy ounces (3.5 tonnes) of gold in 2006.

Large-scale hard rock gold mines under development (construction)

* Rock Creek, in the Nome mining district, which is expected to pour its first gold bar in 2008.
* Kensington and Jualin; adjacent historical underground gold-in-quartz-veins mines in the Juneau mining district which are poised to reopen.

Advanced exploration projects of note

* Donlin Creek, with an estimated 31.7 million ounces (995 tonnes) of gold is one of the largest known undeveloped gold deposits in the world; expansion and definition drilling continues. ["Donlin Creek resource estimates rise," "Mining Engineering", March 2008, p.14.] A large and robust series of felsic sills and dikes hosts the gold in association with small-scale quartz (and lesser quartz and/or carbonate) veinlets. The sills intrude a thick sequence (5000+ feet) of non-metamorphosed, folded, graywacke, sandstone, and shale. More than 200 people are currently employed on this project owned by Barrick Gold and NovaGold..
* Pebble Copper, discovered in the mid-1980s, is one of the largest known copper-gold porphyry deposits in the world; definition drilling continues. With measured+indicated+inferred resources of 74-billion pounds of copper, the deposit also contains 87-million ounces of gold, and 3-billion pounds of molybdenum. [ [http://www.northerndynastyminerals.com/ndm/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=287666&_Type=News-Release&_Title=Updated-Resource-Estimate-Confirms-Pebble-East-As-One-Of-The-Worlds-Most-Im... Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. - News Releases - Updated Resource Estimate Confirms Pebble East As One Of The World's Most Important Copper-Gold-Molybdenum Deposits - Fri Mar 28, 2008 ] ]
*Nixon Fork mine, first opened in 1907, this underground operation exploits high-grade gold skarn ore bodies along contacts between Cretaceous granitoid and metamorphosed Paleozoic sediments. Returned to production for several years in the mid-1990s, resource drilling is underway again.
* The Niblack deposit, a copper-zinc-gold-silver VMS prospect in Southeast Alaska on southeastern Prince of Wales Island, approximately convert|30|mi|km southwest of the town of Ketchikan. Underway are underground exploration of this early-1900's mine; and surface drilling and other advanced exploration of other massive sulfide bodies hosted in a local rhyolite belt in deeply deformed and metamorphosed volcanic and sedimetary rocks.

Recreational gold mining in Alaska

Recreational mining, that is small-scale prospecting and mining using gold pans, sluiceboxes, rockers, suction dredges, and metal detectors, is enjoying a resurgence in Alaska. It is a fun way to spend a day or weekend, everyone in the family can participate, and it requires inexpensive equipment. And, you just might find some gold.

In addition to the many "pay 2 mine" commercial ventures offering opportunities for the weekend miner (for example the Crow Creek Mine) and many other free areas within Chugach National Forest ["http://www.nps.gov/aplic/Goldmining.pdf" ] near Anchorage), the State has set aside areas just for this purpose. Most Alaska State Parks (in particular Chugach State Park, Kenai State Parks, and Independence Mine State Historical Park) [ "Public Recreational Mining in State Parks, Factsheet. http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/factsht/mine_fs/recgoldm.pdf"] also allow recreational mining, with some stipulations. Most of the areas have few or no facilities, such as outhouses, but that's changing, and adds to the feeling of getting in touch with the gold mining roots of the Pioneers.

Perhaps the easiest to get to, and one with camping areas close by, is the Caribou Creek Recreational Mining area ["http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/factsht/mine_fs/caribou1.pdf FACTSHEET: Caribou Creek State Recreational Mining Area"] . Located on the Glenn Highway east of Palmer, the area has fine gold and easy access.

The Hatcher Pass Public Use Area is located approximately fifteen miles north of Palmer on the Little Susitna River. The area is open to a variety of recreational activities, including recreational mining. A fact sheet provides details on recreational mining within the Hatcher Pass Public Use Area ["http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/factsht/mine_fs/hatcherp.pdf FACTSHEET: Recreational Mining in the Hatcher Pass Public Use Area, Alaska DNR"] .

Somewhat more challenging due to access, but also more rewarding, is the Petersville State Recreational Mining Area [ "http://www.alaskafreegold.com/home432 Petersville State Recreational Mining area and Driveguide to the Petersville Road"] .

Nome Creek is located within the White Mountains National Recreation Area, and is administered by the BLM [ "http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/prog/sa/white_mtns/summer_recreation/nome_creek_valley.html Nome Creek Valley BLM"] . Access to the gold panning area is from a road at Mile 57 of the Steese Highway. Gold mining on Nome Creek began in 1900, and there was a stampede in 1910 when word of the find leaked out.

You can also try your luck on the beaches of Nome.

You can pan on any federal stream along the Dalton Highway (also known as "The Haul Road") south of Atigun Pass (mile 244) with the following exceptions:

Panning is prohibited in the pipeline right-of-way (27 feet on either side of the pipeline).Panning is not allowed on federal mining claims without the permission of the claimant.

External links

Alaska Gold Mining and Exploration Companies

* [http://www.littlesquawgold.com/lsg2/pages/ls_prop_chan_over.htm Little Squaw Gold Mining Company: "Chandalar Property"]
* [http://www.alaskafreegold.com Alaska Freegold Co.: "The Blue Ribbon Mine, Alaska"]
* [http://www.kinross.com/operations/usa-fort-knox.html Kinross: "Ft. Knox Mine, Alaska"]
* [http://www.kensingtongold.com/mining.html Coeur Alaska: "The Kensington Gold Mine"]
* [http://www.fullmetalminerals.com/s/Home.asp: Full Metal Minerals]
* [http://www.barrick.com/: Barrick Gold]
* [http://www.teckcominco.com/Generic.aspx?PAGE=Operations+Pages%2fGold+Pages%2fPogo&portalName=tc Teck Cominco: "The Pogo Mine"]
* [http://www.tonogold.com/s/Home.asp Tonogold Resources]

Mining Organizations

* [http://www.alaskaminers.org/ "Alaska Miners Association"]

Government links

* [http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/mining/largemine/pebble/ Alaska Division of Mining, Land & Water: "Pebble Project"]
* [http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/mining/largemine/fortknox/index.htm Alaska Division of Mining, Land & Water: "Ft. Knox Mine"]
* [http://www.nps.gov/archive/dena/home/historyandculture/kanhx/kantishna_pioneers.htm Pioneers of Kantishna: "Pioneers of Kantishna, NPS"]
* [http://wwwdggs.dnr.state.ak.us/ Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys]
* [http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/mining/ Alaska Department of Natural Resources: "Mining"]
* [http://library.state.ak.us/hist/goldrush/nome.html Alaska State Library: "Nome Gold Rush"]
* [http://www.dced.state.ak.us/oed/student_info/learn/historicsites.htm: "Alaska Gold Rush Attractions and Historic Sites"]
* [http://www.nps.gov/aplic/Goldmining.pdf National Park Service: "RECREATIONAL GOLD MINING IN ALASKA-Factsheet"]

References


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