Summer 2019 Mining Update

The NANA region has a busy summer ahead with continuing natural resources projects and new exploration. Mining is an economic engine for the area, and responsible mineral development accounts for 68% of all NANA shareholder wages companywide and, through the payment in lieu of taxes, the majority of the Northwest Arctic Borough’s budget. In addition, the village investment fund is paid for by Red Dog Mine.

Red Dog Mine

Red Dog Mine is NANA’s flagship project with partner Teck and is currently the largest zinc mine in the world, also producing other metals like lead, silver and germanium. The zinc mined at Red Dog is used for galvanizing steel, fertilizer, zinc tablets for colds, sunblock and more.

State Lands and Underground Exploration

Teck will continue to explore state lands for future mining potential. Surface exploration drilling is active about 10 miles from Red Dog. If used as a mining site, it will be connected by a short road and will rely on much of the pre-existing infrastructure. It will take five to six years to determine if it’s a minable area. Tuuq Drilling, a NANA company, is performing the core drilling with partner Ruen Drilling.


The Northern Seward Peninsula gold exploration is in the early stages. Soil and geology sampling will be done on both state and NANA lands in May and June. Historically, 600,000 ounces of placer gold was mined in the area, and there’s potential for base metals like zinc and lead.


In partnership with Trilogy Metals, the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP) is scheduled for a busy summer. Advanced exploration continues for copper, zinc, lead, silver, gold and cobalt. Drilling is expected to start at the Bornite deposit, near Kobuk, on June 10 and end around Sept. 15.

Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Project

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) proposes to construct a new gravel access road in the southern Brooks Range foothills to provide industrial access to the Ambler Mining District. The road would originate at the Dalton Highway near Prospect Creek and end at the Ambler Mining District and would have no public access. The Ambler Road access environmental impact statement is scheduled to be released in July 2019.


Kivalina Evacuation and School Site Access Road was completed, and funds are being pursued to create the causeway. The Kiana airport improvement project (runway and taxiway work) is scheduled to be completed by early September. New sources for gravel production are being developed near Kiana and are being evaluated near Kotzebue for Cape Blossom. Gravel can also be used for individual projects by NANA shareholders who are able to obtain a certain amount of free gravel every year. For more information, visit

Listen to an update from Lance Miller, Ph.D , vice president of natural resources about what developments are happening here.