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By The Associated Press
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

State: Mines worth $1.4 billion in 2004


Last updated 11/27/2005 at Noon

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys said the industry topped $1 billion in expenditures and earnings for the ninth straight year.

The mining industry paid nearly $27 million to the State of Alaska and municipalities in 2004, an increase of $8 million from the previous year, the report said.

Revenue from mining license taxes more than tripled from 2003, largely due to profitability of zinc extraction at Red Dog Mine near Kotzebue.

The mining industry contributed more than 3,000 jobs in the state, a third more than the previous year. Most of the increase was in exploration, development and industrial minerals production.

"These numbers demonstrate the solid economics underlying Alaska's mining industry," said Commissioner of Natural Resources Mike Menge.

Production tops '03

The industry produced minerals worth $1.3 billion in 2004, topping the previous year by more than $300 million. Increases in the prices of gold, silver and zinc played a big part in the industry's success, said Natural Resources spokesman Dan Saddler.

The price of gold was $410 an ounce in 2004, a 13 percent increase from 2003. Zinc prices increased by 24 percent to 47 cents a pound.

At the same time, the industry spent $209 million, the third-highest amount since the state began keeping records in 1981, on developing mineral deposits.

Teck-Pogo spent the most with development of the Pogo Gold Mine near Fairbanks. The mine is scheduled to come online in the spring.

Fairbanks had the largest number of claims in the state with Pogo, Tangle Lakes and Pebble prospects. Claims covered 133,480 acres, with placer claims accounting for 25 percent of the acreage in the Fairbanks area.

Exploration for gold and other minerals across the state was worth $71 million, more than double the amount spent in 2003. Exploration occurred across the state, but $38 million was spent in southwest Alaska.

Division efforts since 2003 to streamline the permitting process contributed to the growth of mining development, said Bob Swenson, deputy director of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.


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