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Exploration begins in Aleutian Islands after 2 decades as gold prices skyrocket

Posted: August 27, 2011 - 10:17pm

ANCHORAGE — The price of gold has soared worldwide, and that means another exploration has been launched into remote parts of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce reports the remote Unga and Popof islands, as well as a copper deposit near Balboa Bay, will host mining explorations for the first time since the 1980s.

Gold reached $1,828 per ounce on Aug. 23, a gain of about $350 per ounce since July 1.

The region has witnessed exploration before. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, inflation skyrocketed and gold prices rose, sparking work in the Aleutian Islands. But when the economy stabilized, exploration was deemed unprofitable and fell off.

Popof Island is home to Sand Point and neighboring Unga Island to the west is one of the oldest mining claims in Alaska. Both are part of the Shumagin Islands. The Apollo deposit on Unga Island produced 145,000 ounces of gold from 1891 to 1904.

As many as 12 exploration holes were planned for drilling this summer in and around Popof Island, and as many as 23 drill holes were planned for Unga Island mostly surrounding Apollo Mountain.

Full Metal Minerals Inc. is the owner of the lease for Unga and Popof, and Alaska Earth Sciences Inc. of Anchorage is conducting operations. Full Metal Minerals has partnered with Canadian junior mining company Red Star Gold, which purchased old federal claims to the land.

Full Metal Minerals is also in its second season exploring on the Alaska Peninsula just north of Unga Island near Balboa Bay at the Pyramid copper deposit. The company set up a camp this summer with about 25 people and a pair of drill rigs to further explore the Pyramid deposit.

The Pyramid deposit has known copper reserves.

The Aleutians and the Alaska Peninsula are the only areas along the Pacific Ring of Fire that do not have current mining production operations.

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