JUNEAU — Last week, the Alaska State Legislature passed legislation designating May 10 as “Alaska Mining Day” each year.
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Cathy Giessel, R-Turnagain Arm/North Kenai, was created in an effort to raise public awareness of Alaska’s rich history and cultivate appreciation for the state’s miners and the mining industry through educational activities and celebratory events.
Well-known, large gold rushes occurred in: Juneau in 1880, Turnagain Arm in 1885, Fortymile in 1886, Kenai in 1888, Circle in 1892, the Klondike in 1896, Nome in 1898, Fairbanks in 1902, and Iditarod in 1908. These gold rushes, and the copper discovery at Kennecott in 1905, brought miners, adventurers, merchants and families to Alaska. They built towns, roads, ports and railroads.
Mining jobs cover a wide spectrum of professions. They include heavy equipment operators, miners, drillers, engineers, geologists, biologists, accountants and chemists, to name a few. The average salary is $100,000 a year, nearly twice the statewide average wage.
“The mining industry built much of the infrastructure we see today in Alaska. The most recent example is the Lake Dorothy Hydroelectric Dam near Juneau, which serves Juneau residents, yet was needed because of the Greens Creek Mine,” Senator Giessel said. “The mining industry also employs more than 2,000 people and creates public revenue by paying both state and local taxes. I think “Alaska Mining Day” is a great way to reflect on how important this industry is to our state.”
Representative Cathy Munoz, R-Juneau, was instrumental in getting Senate Bill 1 passed in the House. She carried the bill on the Floor and also sponsored a companion bill, House Bill 115. The first Alaska Mining Day to be celebrated will be this year on May 10.
Senate Bill 1 will now head to Governor Sean Parnell for his signature.
For more information, contact Margaret Dowling, in Senator Giessel’s, office at 907-465-8181.