• 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.