U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced legislation to permit road access to two proposed multi-mineral mines on southeast Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. The Niblack Mining Area Road Authorization Act would authorize a road across 18 miles of inventoried roadless lands.
"With unemployment as much as 12 percent higher than the national average, Southeast Alaska is in dire need of new job opportunities," Murkowski said. "These mines will provide stable, well-paying jobs for hundreds of residents, so long as they can actually get to the mines. My bill will help make getting to work a much easier task for residents of the Island."
While the Niblack mine -- a gold, copper, zinc, and silver deposit -- is currently closed, Heatherdale Minerals of Canada is considering reopening it. Nearby is another mineral deposit, the Bokan Mountain Rare Earth Elements (REE) mine, which is in the advanced stages of an economic feasibility review. The Bokan Mountain mine alone is expected to employ 200 workers.
Both mines could be open within three to four years, depending on final economic reviews and current permit approval timeframes. Bokan Mountain is located about 28 miles south of Niblack and can currently only be accessed by boat. The road would allow prospective mine workers who live on Prince of Wales better access to the mines, rather than having to commute to Ketchikan to reach the mines.