Kinross Gold Mine officials said in an online teleconference Tuesday that work on the company’s gold prospect near Tok will resume early next year. If all goes well, they’ll haul their first load of ore to the company’s mill in Fairbanks in about three years.
Two Kinross Fort Knox Mine officials told the 25 or so people attending Tuesday’s virtual conference that the company will spend much of the coming year conducting studies and applying for permits to move ahead on the Peak Gold Project.
But Vice President and General Manager Jeremy Brans says they also want to hear from members of the community during that time – especially those interested in doing business with Kinross.
“We are very eager to get to know the local vendors and contractors better in Tok,” he said during the conference hosted by the Tok Chamber of Commerce.
Brans says Kinross always works to establish ties with local companies in areas where it’s developing projects. And he says despite those local companies’ smaller size, they have some advantages over bigger contractors, because their workers live in the communities where projects are under way.
“Local contractors will certainly be invited to bid,” he said, “and those that are not local will be encouraged to hire local labor.”
Kinross’s decision against building a mill at the Tok mine to process ore onsite means the project will produce fewer construction and operations jobs. But Brans says in exchange, the project will move along more quickly, because the decision shrinks its environmental footprint.
“We won’t need to build a mill,” he said. “We won’t need to build a tailings dam. We won’t need to store tails behind the tailings dam.”
Instead, the ore that’ll be extracted from the mine’s two open pits will be trucked 250 miles up the Alaska Highway to Delta Junction and the Richardson Highway to Kinross’s mill near Chatanika, north of Fairbanks. Brans says the company’s mine-tailings dam at the Fort Knox mine should be able to handle the material from the Tok and won’t need to be expanded.
Brans added that the trucking plan will create additional jobs to offset those that would’ve created by the onsite mill. But External Affairs Manager Anna Atchison said the company didn’t yet have details like how many trucking jobs will be created.
“That’s all still in the planning process,” she said. “So, we’re actually just meeting with trucking companies. We’ve met with a couple; we’ve got more to go.”
Atchison says the company estimates it’ll take two to four truckloads, per hour, to take the ore north to the Fort Knox mill, and about the same number coming back empty.
Brans says if all goes according to plan, those truckloads will begin to roll sometime in 2024.