Rising Gold Price Good for Business In Alaska

The price of gold has hit a new high of over $1,700 an ounce. It’s the latest surge in precious metal prices in recent years, and it’s driving a lot of interest in gold in Alaska. Bobby Curry, the general manger of Oxford Assaying and Refining in Fairbanks says business is good.

Curry says the company deals in gold nuggets, coins and bullion. He says they also handle a lot of raw gold, due to a small scale mining boom.

Curry says he’s even had someone come in who found an ounce and a half gold nugget with a metal detector in the historic mining area of Chatanika, north of Fairbanks.

The state has four public mining areas, one each near Eureka and Talkeetna, and two in Nome. State Department of Natural Resources Mining Geologist Bill Cole says Nome’s West Beach area opened this year in response to public demand.

Cole says most of the small scale operations in Alaska are on existing claims, but that new claims are also being staked. A record number of mining permit applications are being processed for work on state and federal lands. Steve Lundeen, the statewide mine inspection coordinator with the Bureau of Land Management in Fairbanks says activity has risen dramatically.

Lundeen says there’s also new claim staking happening on federal land, despite a fairly limited amount of B.L.M. property that’s open. He says the agency is looking at opening new areas. He says Alaska saw a similar mining boom when the price of gold spiked in the 1980s.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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