Alaska's mining community is meeting in Juneau this week as part of an annual spring conference and trade show hosted by the Alaska Miners Association.
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More than 200 people have purchased tickets to the event, which features five days of activities, including training courses, vendors, roundtable discussions and guest speakers at Centennial Hall.
This is the first year since 1995 that the state mining association has held the conference in the capital.
"There has been a resurgence in the mining community (in Southeast Alaska). There is a great level of excitement in the community right now. Metal prices are high. It is great time to be in the business," said Michael Satre, chairman of the Juneau chapter of the association.
This spring conference differs from its annual conference in Anchorage because focus on a region of the state, and several events highlight mining in Southeast Alaska.
Alaska mining in 2006
Total value of mineral industry: $3.1 billion.
Greatest producing project: Red Dog Mine, the world's largest zinc mine in northwestern Alaska accounted for 60 percent of the total value.
Number of jobs: 3,000 direct and 6,300 indirect full-time equivalent jobs.
Total drillage: 637,000 feet.
Exploration expenditures: at least $170 million.
To view a copy of the week's agenda, visit the story on the Web by clicking Conference Program.pdf.
For more information about the Alaska Miner's Association, visit www.alaskaminers.org.
The featured speaker during the noon luncheon today is David Salisbury, president and CEO of Kennecott Minerals, majority owner of the Greens Creek Mine on Admiralty Island.
Gov. Sarah Palin had been tentatively scheduled to take part in a discussion about threats of more stringent permitting regulations and a proposal now in the Legislature that could increase taxes for mining companies.
"She unfortunately couldn't make it," Satre said.
Satre said that discussion, slated for 2 p.m. Friday, will feature, among others, Larry Hartig, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
"The mining community is getting stronger. (We want to talk about) how we deal with some of the proposed legislation, permitting requirements, how we deal with some of the NGO groups, whether we include them or exclude them," Satre said.
Members of the conservation community are planning on attending as well, said Rob Cadmus, water quality and mining expert for Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
"There are a lot of people who are interested in these types of issues, so any discussion is good," he said. "Having someone like Richard Pombo as their keynote speaker, who lost re-election because of his poor stance on environmental issues, concerns me that the mining industry is not going in the right direction in dealing with some of these controversial issues hitting them head on."
The former Republican congressman from California is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Thursday about public land access for both industries and recreation.
He has been a strong supporter of the mining industry and served as the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
The association is also featuring sessions on how to better develop the Alaskan workforce for the mining industry.
Brittany Retherford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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