• Cost of exploration for metallic minerals in Alaska

      Grybeck, D; Peek, B.C.; Robinson, M.S. (University of Alaska Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, 1976)
      The high cost of exploration for metallic minerals in Alaska not only reflects a 20-50% increase in the cost of supplies, food and salaries over those "outside" but also some additional costs that are characteristic of most Alaskan exploration efforts. Transportation in particular often represents half of the exploration budget and is a major cost of almost all programs. Helicopters commonly are used as the basic mode of field transportation; their cost is high (about $125 to $300 per hour) and increasing, and their availability is becoming less certain with the accelerating demand for them. Salaries for field personnel are also considerably higher than those paid to personnel "outside". And the demand, both from within and without the mining industry, for those with Alaskan experience is so great as to drive those salaries even higher. Fuel and communication costs not only show the usual Alaskan mark-up but are also subject to local scarcity and almost unavoidable problems. Fuel will probably continue to be available in the major population centers but there have always been difficulties in providing or obtaining fuel in the bush; these will undoubtedly be magnified with the booming development of Alaska's petroleum resources and national scarcity. Communications with the field will undoubtedly continue to be uncertain at times and will frequently present major problems that money along cannot solve and result in much frustration and delay. Contract services such as drilling, geophysical work, and geochemical analyses are available within the state in varying degree or can be obtained "outside" at rates that do not seem to be unduly expensive. However, the cost of transportation, mobilization, and demobilization of the personnel and equipment used in performing these services may result in unusually high costs for projects of short duration. Early logistical planning has always been considered wise in Alaskan field work and it will undoubtedly continue to be important, if not essential. The lack of it may be alleviated in some cases with copious applications of money but with Alaska's present booming development, the lack of planning may lead to an uncertain ability to work in the field at all. The cost of Alaskan exploration programs vary greatly. Many of the reconnaissance geologic and geochemical programs are strikingly expensive chiefly because of the need for helicopter support. Other types of programs such as prospect evaluations are not nearly so expensive and Alaskan costs for projects of limited area or duration are nor necessarily prohibitive. In almost all cases, experience, imagination, and prior planning can reduce costs significantly.
    • Optimum transportation systems to serve the mineral industry north of the Yukon basin in Alaska

      Wolff, E.N.; Lambert, C.; Johansen, N.I.; Rhodes, E.M.; Solie, R.J. (University of Alaska Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, 1972)
      In 1972 the U. S . Bureau of Mines awarded a grant (No. G 01 22096) to the Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, University of Alaska, for a research project to determine optimum transportation systems to serve the mineral industry north of the Yukon River basin in Alaska. The study was conducted during the period May 1 - November 1, 1972. The study assesses the mineral potential of the region and selects two copper deposits: a known one at Bornite, and a potential one on the upper Koyukuk River. Two possible mining sites within the extensive coal bearing region north of the Brooks Range are also selected. A computer model was developed to perform an economic analysis of technically feasible transportation modes and routes from these four sites to Alaskan ports from which minerals could be shipped to markets. Transport modes considered are highway, rail, cargo aircraft, river barge, winter haul road and air cushion vehicles (A.C.V.). The computer program calculates the present worth of tax benefits from mining and transportation and revenues based on the value of minerals at the port, as well as the auxillary benefits derived from the anticipated use of the routes by the tourist industry. Annual and fixed costs of mining and transportation of minerals are calculated, and benefit-cost ratios determined for each combination of routes and modes serving the four mineral sites. The study concludes that the best systems in terms of a high benefit-cost ratio are those utilizing a minimum of new construction of conventional highways or railroads. The optimum system as derived from this study is one linking together existing transportation systems with aircraft or A.C.V. These modes are feasible only for the shipment of a high value product, namely blister copper produced by a smelter at the mining site, Of the several alternatives considered for the shipment of coal, only a slurry pipeline to an as yet undeveloped port on the Arctic coast showed significant promise. The study recommends that: 1. More government support should be given to mineral exploration in Alaska. 2. Potential mineral industry development should be considered in transportation planning at state and federal levels. 3. Additional research pertinent to mining and processing of minerals in the North should be conducted, and the feasibility of smelting minerals within Alaska explored. 4. Alternatives for providing power to Northwestern Alaska should be investigated.
    • Transportation economics of coal resources of northern slope coal fields, Alaska

      Clark, P.R. (University of Alaska Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, 1973)
      This paper describes the Northern coal fields, the environment in which they are situated, and various routes and systems for transporting metallurgical qua1ity coal from these deposits to a potential market in Japan. Each transportation mode is discussed with respect to northern Alaska conditions. Capitol and operating costs were developed for each system. If the coal must support the entire transportation system cost, the transportation of coal from the North Slope of Alaska to Japan appears to be economically feasible only from easily mined areas which are close to an ocean shipping port. In the case of transportation cost sharing by other users, or by government subsidization, the prospects of northern coal exploitation would be enhanced. The final feasibility of developing any of this coal deposit cannot be determined until the mining costs and the factors which influence these costs are known.