The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

It's mining convention season again

We need to mine our minerals for cellphones and amenities, but in a war-torn world, there are other factors on the table North of 60 Mining News - November 3, 2023

Somehow, for those of us who follow the mining industry in Alaska, the first full week of November marks not the end but the beginning of the mining New Year.

AMA conventions have occurred in this window for at least the last 45 years, and every year, although always different, in a larger sense, it is always the same.

Miners and support industry entities gather in Anchorage to compare notes and make deals that will govern their activities for the ensuing year. It is a hugely positive event which every year surpasses all that has gone on before.

Of course, there will be many familiar experiences, short courses, technical presentations, interaction with governmental officials, an awesome trade show, and a wonderful banquet.

Kevin Adler has been the driving support for the convention since memory of man runneth not to the contrary, and Deantha Stibinski, together with the entire AMA crew, countless volunteers, speakers, sponsors, and contributors, are all lending their shoulder to the wheel to make this convention even better than any before.

Although there probably won't be any presentations about the world situation at the convention, undoubtedly, given the fact that there are wars going on in Ukraine and the Levant, it seems likely that how America responds to those horrific affairs will be a side conversation at many coffee tables.

What makes that background factor relevant to the Alaska mining industry is the fact that, like so many other commodities that are a part of our life, all the armor and all the munitions that are consumed in those war efforts are derived from mined products.

As America empties its warehouses of dusty and obsolete armaments, they will have to be replaced. To the extent that Alaska is a repository for many of the source mineral products, the war effort may redound to the benefit of the state.

Mining in Alaska has long struggled with the heavy hand of remote bureaucrats who have used our industry as the whipping boy for innumerable environmental and sociological political objectives.

A laundry list of statutes and regulations, interpreted by an overlay of judicial decisions, have caused the delay or derailment of massive projects in the state. The nickel project in Glacier Bay and the molybdenum project in Misty Fjords are just a taste of what lies beneath our feet. There are many more.

But having said that, the fact remains that many more Alaska projects are still in the offing.

None of us are given the vision. Whether Pebble will arise out of the ashes is still an open question. When Donlin completes its permitting process, it will be a great mine. The debate over the Ambler Road is ongoing, but hopefully will reach a conclusion sometime soon.

Many more elephants are waiting in the wings for America to wake up to the fact that we need more mines and fewer off-limits areas in Alaska.

The armed conflicts around the world are not a pleasant justification for recovering critical minerals, but they do point up the reality that what we cannot develop for peaceful reasons, we may be forced to exploit for the defense of our allies.

Alaska has the gold and the silver, the copper and the zinc, the rare earths, and the graphite that the nation needs. And, looking around at the participants in the AMA convention, it is clear that we have the skills and expertise necessary to recover and deliver those minerals to the American marketplace.

Whether we are talking about wind turbines or attack weapons, if it can't be grown, it must be mined.

Have an awesome convention, and take comfort in the knowledge that Alaska mining is not going away anytime soon.


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