Mining is a growing force in Alaska’s economy, providing jobs for thousands of Alaskans and millions of dollars of personal income throughout Alaska. Alaska’s mining industry includes exploration, mine development, and mineral production. Alaska’s mines produce coal, gold, lead, silver, zinc, as well as construction materials, such as sand, gravel, and rock.
year AMA commissions the McDowell Group to research the economic impact
of Mining in Alaska. Continued investments by the mining industry
ensure Alaska’s continued economic growth.
Click here to read the current (2018) Economic Impact Report for Mining in Alaska
Trends begins 2019 with the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development annual jobs forecast. For this year, they forecast a small amount of overall job growth. Regionally, the Fairbanks area’s employment will grow the most, largely tied to the preparations to house two F-35 squadrons at Eielson Air Force base over the next couple of years as well as the accompanying personnel and their families.
Source: Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development
Steve Gabrielsen, Jeff Wetton, David Hernandez and Jed Hardcastle won first place in the 2018 Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Engineering Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America mine design contest. Mining students from around the country submit their capstone design reports.
The trio submitted their senior design report from MIN 490, taught by Rajive Ganguli. The project centered on a Hecla-owned property in Mexico. The students consulted with Hecla professionals as they worked on the report.
For the past six years, MIN 490 mine design teams have placed in the top three five times, and have won the event twice.
The NMA reports that Hecla Mining Co is hard at work training the next generation of job seekers in Alaska. The company, which owns and operates Greens Creek mine in southeast part of the state, has partnered with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to embark on an educational program that trains local high school students for technically focused mining careers.
The program began in 2011 when Hecla donated $300,000 to UAS to create an “Introduction to Mining Occupations and Operations” course for local high school students. This quickly expanded into a program called The Pathway to Mining Careers. “The pathway” begins with an introductory course for high school juniors and seniors and concludes with enrollment in Hecla Greens Creek Mine Academy, where students earn the federally recognized certification required to work at any mine in the United States.
“Our focus here at UAS is to get students interested in careers in mining,” said Graham Neale, the Director of UAS’ Center for Mine Training, and to educate the local Alaska workforce in those skilled positions. We’re interested in casting a wide net to high school students, letting them know about the opportunities available in the mining industry, different types of careers. Speakers talk about how they got to where they are. Health and safety, equipment operations, mechanics – you get it from the horse’s mouth, from those who have walked the walk in the mining industry.”
The results so far have been encouraging—258 students have taken the intro class, 48 advanced to the Hecla Greens Creek Mine Academy, and 15 went on to graduate with a UAS certification in mining.
Holding the attention of tomorrow’s scientists and engineers can be tricky. Fortunately, Juneau is rife with professionals who work in those fields every day.
A group of local STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — advocates is working on a database to make it easy for teachers to connect bookwork with real world work and find those professionals.
“From mining expertise and engineering, kind of geology, we have the glacial, we have University of Alaska Southeast, University of Alaska Fairbanks has fisheries here, we have NOAA fisheries, we have all the state organizations,” said Jordan Watson, a fisheries scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. “We have so many different expertise here and in such a small town, it would seem a shame to not be using it in the classrooms.”
He and other members of SouthEast Exchange, or SEE, wanted to find a way to bring all of those resources to teachers. They hosted a networking event recently to help bridge that gap.
About 150 educators and STEM professionals came to network and register in SEE’s directory.