Miners Conference Energized by Industry Uptick, Trump's ‘Refreshing' Regulatory Policy

Mar 29, 2018

The Alaska Miners Association’s 26th Biennial Conference got under way in earnest Wednesday at the Carlson Center. Deantha Crockett, the association executive director, she says attendance is high – and so is the energy and enthusiasm, reflecting the industry’s rebound after years of downturn.

Usibelli Coal Mine's Two Bull Ridge Mine, foreground, and Poker Flats Mine, background. The Trump administration has rolled back regulation of the coal industry and pledged to revive it after years of steady decline.
Credit groundtruthtrekking.org

“We went through about four years of decline of our industry,” Crockett said. “It was very much related to commodity prices, and the fact that there just wasn’t a lot of capital worldwide to invest, particularly in exploration projects or the expansion of existing projects. So, the industry wasn’t growing, if you will. In fact, it was declining.”

The conference kicked-off Monday, but the first two days were mainly focused on issues mainly of interest to the industry. On Wednesday, the association’s trade show got under way. And the agenda broadened to include presentations on some bigger-picture topics, such as federal policy under the Trump administration.

Crockett says the administration’s support for de-regulation and its generally industry-friendly policies, in addition to upticks in commodity prices, have energized the industry.

Deantha Crockett, Alaska Mining Association executive director
Credit Alaska Miners Association

“There is a refreshing change in the way the federal government views how the regulatory process overall works,” she said. “And our federal government and agencies that regulate mines have begun to take a look and say are our regulations appropriate?”

Crockett says that’s encouraged investors to take a closer look at mining projects in Alaska. But she says state leaders’ ongoing failure to enact fiscal policies based on lower oil-industry revenues will discourage investment in the mining industry.

“Even if our operations are making money,” she said, “the companies worldwide that look at investing in Alaska or look at spending money on current operations still are a bit concerned about the fact that Alaska doesn’t have its fiscal situation resolved.”

The conference continues through the weekend.