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Sumitomo-Pogo Officials Announce Sale of Gold Mine to Australia-based Northern Star

KUAC file photo

UPDATED: Officials with the Japan-based companies that own the Pogo gold mine northeast of Delta Junction have sold the mine to an Australia-based firm for $260 million.

Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. and Sumitomo Corp. will transfer all interest in the Pogo Mine to Northern Star Resources when the deal closes. Company officials expect that to happen in early October, according to news releases the companies issued Thursday.

Sumitomo Metal Mining-Pogo spokeswoman Wendie MacNaughton said Thursday that Northern Star officials don’t predict the sale will have any impact on the 320 workers at the mine, located about 38 miles northeast of Delta Junction.

“Northern Star is really intent on continuing the normal operations at Pogo,” she said. “They are keeping all the employees. The employees will maintain all their normal terms and conditions. And really it’s business as usual at the mine.”

MacNaughton says Northern Star officials plan to continue expansion of the mine that Sumitomo-Pogo officials had been planning, based on promising gold prospects in the area they've discovered over the past couple of years.

“As they say, they don’t buy mines to close mines, they buy mines to expand the life of mine and to really invest a lot in exploration and to grow operations,” she said. “So they are very optimistic. I don’t think the purchase would’ve happened if they were not.”

Officials with both Sumitomo Metal Mining, or SMM, and Sumitomo Corp. have approved the deal, according to the news releases. Under the deal, SMM will transfer 100 percent of its interest in the mine,  including the 15 percent interest held by Sumitomo Corp.

Northern Star is a major gold producer that operates numerous underground gold mines in Australia. A news release says the Pogo mine "will be the company’s first off-shore asset."

Pogo began operation in 2006. According to the company website, the mine has produced more than 3 million ounces of gold.

Editor's note: This story was revised to include additional information, including company officials' adjusted estimate on the deal closing in early October.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.