Headlamp – It’s a mining party in Fairbanks; Can Russia and OPEC make it work for the long haul?

A long-term relationship for OPEC and Russia? Saudi Arabia and Russia are working on a historic long-term pact that could extend controls over world crude supplies by major exporters for many years to come. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering a longer deal to extend a short-term alliance on oil curbs that began in January 2017 after a crash in crude prices. “We are working to shift from a year-to-year agreement to a 10-20-year agreement,” the crown prince told Reuters in an interview in New York late on Monday. “We have agreement on the big picture, but not yet on the detail.” Russia, never a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has worked alongside the 14-member cartel during previous oil gluts, but a 10-20-year deal between the two would be unprecedented.

Miners descend on Fairbanks. Miners often work in remote locations of Alaska, staying in our periphery. However, the mining industry’s contributions remain strong, adding to our history, culture and economy since Fairbanks was founded in 1903. These contributions are not slowing down. Consider the following:

  • Kinross’ open pit Fort Knox Gold Mine, which is about 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks, has produced more than 7 million ounces of gold in its 25 years of operation. Fort Knox employs about 600 people. Fort Knox is permitted to continue mining through 2020.
  • Pogo Mine, a subterranean mine about 85 miles southeast of Fairbanks, poured its first bar of gold in 2006 and has since then produced more than 3 million ounces of gold. Many of Pogo’s employees live in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and work the two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off camp lifestyle. Pogo Mine is owned by the Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. and is permitted to operate through 2021.
  • Usibelli Coal Mine, located 115 miles south of Fairbanks in the Alaska Range, has been operating since 1943. It is the only coal mine in the state and provides coal for six coal-fired plants, four of which are in the Interior.
  • Placer mines, the mostly small operations conducted in creek and river beds, are the least visible of the mining projects in our state. These are often family owned businesses or sole proprietorships with a few employees. The most recent data on placer mines’ economic impact on Alaska comes from 2013. This report shows placer mining accounts for 1,700 jobs in Alaska. In Fairbanks, the placer mining industry accounted for 450 jobs, providing $19 million to these employees.

This week, the mining industry will be in plain sight. More than 500 miners and members of the industry have descended upon Fairbanks for the Alaska Mining Association’s biennial conference. On Thursday, the trade show will be open and free to people who are not members of the AMA, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Carlson Center.

First Reads:

Exclusive: OPEC, Russia consider 10-20 year oil alliance – Saudi Crown Prince
Reuters, Richard Mably and Yara Bayoumy, March 27, 2018

Mining industry still contributes: AMA trade show provides an opportunity for everyone to learn more
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, March 27, 2018