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Industry Status: Mining, 1978

C. C. Hawley, Alaska Mineral Development (1978)

Alaska's hard rock industry is currently divided about evenly with half or some 35-40 million dollars annually being expended for exploration and about half generated from production, including coal.

By geological characteristics much of Alaska is highly favorable for the occurrence of a variety of metallic mineral deposits. Actual prospective and advanced exploration areas are, however, constrained by land availability and economics to a small part of the favorable terrain. The most intensive prospective activities are in six areas, two of which are in Southeast Alaska, two in the Brooks Range, and one each in the Alaska Range and Yukon-Tanana regions.

Access remains both as a practical and legal problem, especially in the light of (d)(2), 603, or Rare II actions which may place widespread Wilderness designations on Alaska. It is very likely that designated Wilderness in Alaska will not carry the 1964 Act's mining exemptions—which are in themselves ineffective.

Geologically the outlook for Alaska's mineral remains excellent, especially because of the discovery of high-grade type deposits which can withstand economics of remote location. Current (d)(2) legislation approximating the Administrative position, if passed, would likely move back the start of anticipated significant Alaskan metal production from about 1983-85 to 1990-2000.