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  • Good time to be in Alaskan mineral sector

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Sep 24, 2020

    As we transition from 2017 into 2018, the weight of evidence pointing to a long-awaited mining industry up-tick is being trumpeted from every financial institution, brokerage house and mining pundit across the globe. For example, RBC Capital Markets' newly released "2018 New Year Preview" has this to say: "We are in the mid-stages of a stock market recovery and the early stages of an economic cycle recovery. Gold is already in a phase where it out-performs other financial... Full story

  • Producers explore for gold closer home

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Feb 5, 2018

    Reuters recently reported that the 10 largest gold-producing companies worldwide have steadily increased their near-mine exploration budgets over the past few years to 56 percent in 2015 from 45 percent in 2013. They also reduced their higher-risk greenfields exploration budgets to 21 percent from 25 percent in the same time period. This retrenchment of exploration by the larger producers is occurring, while global gold output is declining with an expected reduction of 9...

  • Experts forecast declines in gold output

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Feb 3, 2018

    Over the last month the inevitable termination dust has begun to show up across Alaska, bringing with it completion of mineral exploration programs and transition of development and production projects to winter operational modes. Explorers, developers and miners will soon be gathering to compare notes at the annual Alaska Miners Association Convention in Anchorage, an event that always overlaps national and local election night. Alaska's mineral industry outlook brightened... Full story

  • Report ranks gold deposits worldwide

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Feb 1, 2018

    As tangible buoyancy returns to the mining industry, I began to wonder if any of the multitude of forecasters had actually predicted the recent return of stronger metals prices. Since most "forecasters" are actually "hindsighters," I was drawn to a November 2013 summary of gold mines by Roy Sebag of Natural Resource Holdings. The summary, entitled "Global Gold Mines & Deposits 2013 Ranking," indicated that we were nearing peak gold production because the total in-situ ounces...

  • ISER report: Mining sector pays its way

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 28, 2018

    Although news from the mining industry is generally limited this time of year, several items of import over the past month bear discussion. Alaska suffered a tragedy with the recent passing of mineral industry giant Chuck Hawley, one of Alaska's most talented and respected geologists. Although Chuck loved the mineral exploration game, he was far more than a geologist to many of us and to the state. His plus-50-year love affair with Alaska spanned some of the state's most...

  • "We can finally get back to business!"

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 26, 2018

    Earlier in November, the Alaska Miners Association held its annual convention and trade show in Anchorage and as always, the well-attended convention overlapped with election Tuesday. While the lead up to, and results of, the national and state elections were hot topics throughout the week, one comment I heard from a colleague on the morning after the elections distilled the feelings of a lot of people at the conference. When asked what he thought of the election results, he...

  • Alaska mining roars back in recent weeks

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 26, 2018

    If you have ever played or followed sporting events, you are probably familiar with that bizarre and often game-changing event known as the "change of momentum". This is when the team that was on the ropes suddenly comes to life and often roars to victory, putting smiles on the faces of coaches, fans and bookies alike. Well, unless I am mistaken, the Alaska mining industry has been the beneficiary of just such a change of momentum over the past month. After taking head shots... Full story

  • Miners get quick start in 2016

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 26, 2018

    Most of Alaska is now enjoying a warm, early spring, allowing field programs to get off to an quicker start this year. While budgets are still tight, interest in Alaska projects has steadily increased as the mining and metals markets slowly recover from a four-year slowdown. Current estimates for 2016 exploration expenditures are looking like they will end up in the US$50 million to US$60 million range, down from the US$75 million range of last year but less precipitous than... Full story

  • A brighter outlook!

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 26, 2018

    With metal prices stabilizing, physical stockpiles dwindling and demand again on the rise, things are beginning to look up for the beleagered mining industry. Gold's performance over the past several months is a case in point. The World Gold Council reported that during the first quarter, buying of exchange-traded gold funds rose to its highest level since early 2009, wiping out the deep sell-offs of 2014 and 2015 for this instrument. Uncertainties in the fiscal stability of...

  • Declining gold production spurs Goldcorp

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 26, 2018

    As a follow-up to last month's realization that once again "the game is afoot" in the mining industry, major gold producer Goldcorp recently presented some arresting statistics at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Metals, Mining and Steel Conference. The presentation showed gold discovery and production information for the global mining industry that indicated that peak gold discovery occurred in 1995, this despite three periods between 1995 and 2015 when exploration...

  • Feds open comment period for Ambler EIS

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 18, 2018

    With the opening late last month of a public comment period for the environmental impact statement on the proposed Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Project, I am cautiously optimistic that this time, Sisyphus will get the boulder up the hill. As a lowly graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks back in 1979, I helped a crew from Anaconda Minerals color township-size blocks on a huge paper map of the Brooks Range. At the time, Anaconda and numerous other...

  • Forecast brightens for Alaska mining

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 16, 2018

    With winter programs winding down and summer efforts rapidly ramping up, it is becoming clear that 2017 will be a much more vigorous year for the Alaska mining industry than the 2013 to 2016 period. For example, my internal estimates are already pushing $75 million for exploration activity alone and a significant number of projects that have announced exploration plans have not yet announced budgets for 2017, so that number is likely to rise. Compare this to estimates of less...

  • Mining deaths fall to record low in 2016

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 16, 2018

    The year just past was many things for the mining industry, but one of the bright spots came from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, an agency not known for awarding happy faces or gold stars. In 2016, the mining industry experienced only 25 deaths in U.S. mines, the lowest level ever recorded. This, despite the industry having more than 330,000 miners working in 13,000 mines across the country. The leading cause of death in both coal and metal/nonmetal mines was...

  • Recovery takes center stage in Alaska

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Jan 15, 2018

    If there is anyone still on the fence wondering if the minerals industry has started a recovery from the doldrums of the past four years, this month’s mineral industry activity in Alaska should settle the question with authority. During the past month, we have seen two merger/acquisitions occur, one by Solitario Exploration & Royalty Corp., which acquired Zazu Metals Corp. and its interest in the Lik lead-zinc-silver deposit. Then we also had Coventry Resources acquire V...

  • Miners get busy in elephant country

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 14, 2018

    The summer solstice has come and gone, but the Alaska mining industry has paid little attention to the decreased amount of daylight because it is high summer in the high latitudes, time to be out completing work programs that have been in the planning since last fall. Exploration drilling programs have sprouted in the Brooks Range, Interior, Alaska Range, Southeast, Southwest and the Alaska Peninsula. In addition, the sounds of tire-kicking are being heard over a wide area of... Full story

  • Majors drive mineral industry revival

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Jan 14, 2018

    At a recent mining industry panel discussion at the Western States Land Commissioners Association meeting in Anchorage, I was asked if the recent upturn in activity in the Alaska mining industry was a function of commodities prices or a growing worldwide recognition of Alaska's enormous mineral potential. I answered that I thought neither factor was driving the Alaska mineral industry revival: commodities prices have been steady or rising slowly over the last year and... Full story

  • Industry signals reversal in down-cycle

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Jan 13, 2018

    As the Alaska mining industry prepares for and kicks off exploration, development and production activities for 2017, the question on everyone’s lips at the recent Cordilleran Roundup mining convention in Vancouver, B. C., was the same: “Have we seen the bottom of this down cycle?” While signs of life were seen for short periods during the 2008 to 2015 period, the reality was an overall downward spiral of commodities prices and global demand. However, in a recent editi...

  • Turnaround lifts mood as miners gather

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Jan 10, 2018

    For the first time in five long years, the mood at the recently held Alaska Miners Association Convention in Anchorage was buoyant, the result of a slow but steady turnaround on mineral investments in the state. Additional new corporate interest in the state emerged during the past 30 days, and sources of exploration funds coming to Alaska continue to shift, with estimates for 2017 suggesting that 62 percent of this financing comes from Canadian concerns, 18 percent from... Full story

  • Upbeat mood buoys outlook for AMA meet

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Nov 5, 2017

    In early November, the Alaska Miners Association will hold its annual convention in Anchorage. Unlike the past four or five years, the excitement surrounding the convention this year is palpable due to the steady increase in exploration, development and production activities in Alaska in 2017. Clear signs of the industry's long-awaited revival include the fact that 11 new project acquisitions have taken place in 2017, half of which involve companies that are newcomers to the...

  • As winter rolls in, so do field results

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Oct 1, 2017

    As the first snows of the coming winter began to fall at high elevations across Alaska, results of summer programs likewise began to trickle in from far-flung areas of the state. Meanwhile, second- and third-quarter production data began to show up and mining industry analysts released a series of reports covering a wide range of industry-wide trends. For example, SNL Metals and Mining Research released information on how long it takes to move a new discovery to production.... Full story

  • Upturn in mining continues across Alaska

    Curt Freeman, Special to Mining News|Updated Sep 3, 2017

    The Alaska mining industry continued its increased pace of activities in August, even as the first hint of autumn starts to be felt across the state. Metals prices were relatively stable with increasing demand for zinc and gold, the two metals that generate the most revenue from Alaska's operating mines. Wood Mackenzie is forecasting a 3 percent increase in global refined zinc demand in 2017 to 14.7 million metric tons. With refined zinc production limited to a 2 percent...

  • Mining sees another dismal year in 2015

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Mar 27, 2016

    As in the recent past, the state of the world's exploration industry was summarized in SNL Metal & Mining's annual "Corporate Exploration Strategies" publication, released at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto earlier this month. Not surprisingly, it painted a grim picture of 2015, the worst year for exploration since 2009. The statistics indicate that worldwide exploration expenditures declined a further 19 percent to $9.2 billion...

  • Price run-up startles

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Feb 28, 2016

    Although there is plenty of Alaska mining industry news this month, the big dog in the pen is the dramatic and unexpected run-up in the price of gold, which moved from a low of $1,078 per ounce to a high of $1,246/oz., most of which occurred after Feb. 1. Although profit-taking and other factors have caused the price to back off a bit, the move was both dramatic and unexpected. As you might guess, the ether is full of talking heads telling us why it went up, why it either won'... Full story

  • Subjective outlook

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Dec 27, 2015

    As the curtain rings down on 2015, the sound of clapping and cheering can already be heard from the mining industry as it anticipates the end of a largely depressing year which started out looking like the long-awaited industry recovery was going to happen but in the end, did not. The uncertainty brought on by this year's unsettling events was front and center in a recent round-table discussion hosted by Northern Miner, sponsored by PearTree Securities and entitled "New...

  • Mining may be down

    Curt Freeman, For Mining News|Updated Nov 29, 2015

    Earlier this month, the Alaska Miners Association held its annual convention in Anchorage amid plummeting metals prices and an over-all atmosphere of economic uncertainty now stretching into its fourth year. Individuals from around North America and beyond were present and conversations outside of the technical sessions seemed to gravitate toward how best to climb out of the doldrums that seem to grip the mining industry on a global scale. One individual was heard to say that...

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