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Mining News September 01, 2023 03:50:00 PM

Partners Break Ground on Alaska Gold Mine

Paul Ploumis
ScrapMonster Author
Either way, Tok residents and businesses enjoy a steady, though seasonally fluctuating, stream of traffic and business for its gas stations, stores, restaurants, RV parks, hotels, and other businesses.

Partners Break Ground on Alaska Gold Mine

SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): An Aug. 29 groundbreaking ceremony at Manh Choh marked the official opening of Alaska's newest gold mine. But even before tribal, corporate, and state leaders tossed the symbolic golden shovels of dirt celebrating the start of Manh Choh, the Alaskan crossroads town of Tok about 15 miles to the northwest was already bustling from the added business this mine brings.

As the first real sign of civilization in nearly 300 miles for northbound Alaska Highway travelers, and the last full-service Alaska town for visitors heading south to Canada and the Lower 48 states, Tok is practically a required stop along the 1,382-mile northern highway known locally as the Alcan.

After fueling up, resting, grabbing a bite to eat, and loading up on supplies, northbound travelers have the option of turning toward Anchorage or continuing on the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks. Canada-bound travelers have the choice of a side trek over the "Top of the World Highway" to Dawson City, Yukon, or stay on the most direct route to southern locales.

Either way, Tok residents and businesses enjoy a steady, though seasonally fluctuating, stream of traffic and business for its gas stations, stores, restaurants, RV parks, hotels, and other businesses.

"Historically, Tok has been a pass-through community – a service town for tourism and government projects," Bronk Jorgensen, a Tok resident and businessman, told Mining News.

With Manh Choh – a joint venture owned by Kinross Gold Corp. (70%) and Contango ORE Inc. (30%) – setting up camp at the site of a shuttered and slowly deteriorating hotel in the center of town, Tok businesses are now enjoying an increase to their baseload clientele from the workers that have arrived to build and operate this mine on nearby Alaska Native land owned by Tetlin Village.

"This is the first real, private industrial project we have had in this area that is coming to full fruition. So, it is going to create a huge economic boost to this area, it already has," Jorgensen said.

For those who have passed through Tok many times on their journeys across Alaska and beyond, the extra bustle is immediately apparent when you see dozens of mining company and contractor vehicles lined up at the freshly restored hotel-turned-camp, parts stores, gas stations, and other businesses that line the Alaska Highway and Tok Cutoff Road heading south to Anchorage.

The bustle becomes even more obvious with a visit to Fast Eddy's, an iconic restaurant in Tok – every table full on a Sunday afternoon and a line of hungry locals, workers, and travelers waiting to be seated.

While Alcan travelers are transient by their very nature and thin out quite a bit during the winter months, the Manh Choh mine is providing year-round business, along with healthy paychecks, to some of the 1,600 or so residents of Tok and the surrounding area.

"It will provide a continued economic benefit through the wintertime when a lot of businesses in this town aren't generating enough money to pay the power or heat bill," Jorgensen said while sitting in his office across the Alaska Highway from Fast Eddy's.

He says Kinross has already gone beyond the norm to ensure that businesses and people in Tok, Tetlin Village, and other nearby communities are able to pay their power and heat bills during the cold and dark winter days.

"Normally when these projects happen, they would go to a large general contractor. Kinross has taken specialties out of the big contract and handed it directly to the local contractor, like me and my brother," the Tok business owner said. "That has been a huge benefit to directly employ local people and work with the community."

 Courtesy: www.miningnewsnorth.com

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