ANCHORAGE - Alaska's mining industry was valued at $1.12 billion last year, the second highest amount on record, officials said.
The annual state report of Alaska's mining industry, detailing mineral exploration, development and production, shows that the industry had a solid year in 1999.
While mineral exploration investment of $52.3 million declined 9 percent from $57.3 million the previous year, the worldwide decline was much larger, sometimes reaching 50 percent, according to the state Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.
Development investments declined in 1999 to $33.8 million, continuing a trend of the past few years. Most reported development was at the mine at Red Dog in Kotzebue, although there also was activity at Fort Knox gold mine near Fairbanks and at the Kensington and Greens Creek mines near Juneau.
Fort Knox is the largest producer of gold in the state, and throughout 1999 continued to produce about 1,000 ounces per day.
Last year, exploration included the discovery of a new, deeply buried deposit of zinc, lead and silver north of Red Dog. Gold reserves at the Pogo deposit north of Delta Junction were expanded to 5.6 million ounces. And a new gold zone was discovered southwest of Tok.
At the same time, drilling continued on many prospects around the state, including the Palmer prospect north of Haines, at Dry Creek in the Alaska Range, at Donlin Creek near Iditarod and at several gold prospects in the Nome and Fairbanks areas.
The $1.12 billion value of Alaska's mining industry in 1999 was the second highest on record. The record was achieved in 1997 when the industry was valued at $1.16 billion.
The industry in 1999 provided almost 3,200 jobs, the agency said.
The Illinois Creek open pit and Nixon Fork underground gold mines were put on care and maintenance status.
The loss of gold production from those mines and several placer mines resulted in a 76,000-ounce decline from 1998.
The loss was offset by increased production of zinc, lead and silver at Red Dog and record production at Greens Creek.
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