UAF hosts the Alaska Minerals Summit

A look at Alaska’s imperative role in the nations mineral development
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 3:52 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Politicians, scholars, scientists, corporate leaders and others gathered at the Joseph Usibelli Building at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), between August 22 and August 23, to attend the Alaska Minerals Summit.

The Alaska Minerals Summit was a gathering of those that lead the way in mineral development, all working together to solve issues in the field. Those in attendance discussed and debated the role of Alaska, issues in the mining industry, international relations, policy and research.

“So mineral development is a highly regulated industry and there’s a lot of layers overlapping, regulations and requirements. So, this summit is really trying to plot a path forward where we can realize our potential as an endowed mineral state,” said Kyle Moselle, from Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Various topics took center stage throughout the summit to include Alaska’s leadership as a model for safe mining and continued, cooperative arrangements between the state government, mines, and tribal corporations.

Nettie La Belle-Hamer, the Vice Chancellor for Research at UAF called for a strengthening of the cooperative relationship saying that a new approach needed to be taken. She suggested that instead of the state and mining corporations developing plans to be approved by tribal corporations, the Alaska Native entities should be a part of the planning process.

Among the political speakers, the need for the nation to be more self-sufficient with mineral development came up multiple times. Both Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Mike Dunleavy brought up how vital self-sufficiency with minerals is and could be, with modern technology becoming more reliant on it.

“Just about every piece of equipment that we have here in this room, your smart phone to the coatings on an F-35, all of that comes from critical minerals. So we want to be in a position where we are not reliant on others for these very, very necessary resources,” stated Senator Murkowski.

Governor Mike Dunleavy spoke about the lack of mineral development utilized by the United States, particularly in Alaska when compared to our allies, Australia and Canada. However, he also acknowledged that we are partners in development. “We have investments from both Australia and Canada here in Alaska so they are our allies. They are our friends and we have the same goals and that’s to produce a lot of materials, a lot of minerals, a lot of elements that are going to help with what we really refer to as our modern day civilization and also the future for renewables,” said Governor Dunleavy.

Governor Dunleavy and Senator Murkowski both echoed that while it is important to make progress in our development levels, the federal government under the Biden administration has been frustrating to work with. Both politicians spoke about how the Biden administration says they support mineral development and using those minerals to indeed progress “modern day civilization,” however the actions of the federal government have curtailed those efforts.

Dunleavy and Murkowski are excited over renewable energy prospects for the State of Alaska. However, in order to move forward with renewable energy, mineral development needs to be increased.

The results of the summit remain to be seen as our leaders in mineral development take their next steps.

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