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FAIRBANKS - Gold's hefty price increase is sparking renewed exploration interest among mining companies following several years of restraint.
Gold prices, fueled by the slipping U.S. dollar against the euro, have made a consistent climb to more than $450 an ounce Wednesday. Mining companies maintaining production at current projects are starting to put more money into finding new sites, said Curt Freeman, president of Avalon Development Corp., a Fairbanks exploration company.
"It's really charged up the industry," he said. "At this time last year, it looked like it was going to turn, but nobody was willing to commit. But given it's come up and stayed up for a while, we're seeing more funding going to exploration."
Freeman said his company, for this time of year is busier than in the past 20 years.
The rise of prices has made the hunt for gold more enticing, said Steve Borell, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association.
"If the price stays up, then we'll expect to see more people come back into mining," he said.
For miners, the most encouraging sign about recent gold prices is that the increase has been a prolonged, consistent climb, not a sudden spike that could be dismissed as an anomaly, Borell said. Miners tend to look for stable prices before committing to a project that requires permits and a host of other investments.
Continuing high gold prices would be good news to companies that are approaching the production stage at several large projects.