from the 16th Kate Shugak novel

Six months ago

VANCOUVER, BC (AP) – A Canadian-based mining firm, Global Harvest Resources Inc. (GHRI) yesterday announced the discovery of a gold, copper and molybdenum deposit on state-leased land in Alaska’s Iqaluk Wildlife Refuge.  At a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, GHRI said preliminary estimates put the recoverable gold at 42 million ounces.

“That’s more than seven times the total amount of gold mined during the Klondike Gold Rush,” said GHRI chief operating officer Bruce O’Malley.

It’s not only gold in them thar hills, according to O’Malley.  “There are also 24 billion pounds of copper and 1.5 million pounds of molybdenum,” a hard metal used to strengthen steel, in what GHRI has named the Suulutaq Mine.  Suulutaq is the Aleut word for gold.

At today’s current prices, the gold alone in the Suulutaq Mine is worth over $38 billion.

The governor’s office in Juneau issued a press release which said, in part, “The people of Alaska applaud Global Harvest Resources’ entrepreneurial efforts in making this discovery, and look forward to a long and profitable relationship with them.”

Senator Pete Heiman (R), representing District 41, appeared optimistic when asked about the proposed mine.  “Global Harvest has already committed to hiring locally, two thousand employees during construction and a thousand for operation afterward, for as long as the ore holds out,” he said.  “Anything that puts my constituents to work is a good thing.”

Calls to the Niniltna Native Association’s headquarters in Niniltna, the community located nearest the prospective mine, were not returned as of press time.  The village of Niniltna itself is unincorporated and has no elected officials.

Fun fact: The real life copper and gold mine, Pebble, upon whose likeness I have superimposed the Park’s Suulutaq Mine, has been a continuous bone of contention between resource extraction companies, local residents, state and federal officials, changing political administrations, and environmentalists for over thirty years now. For too many people Alaska is just one big hole in the ground waiting to be dug. There aren’t many communities in Alaska that aren’t impacted by some kind of ongoing or prospective extraction process. Why should the Park be any different?

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4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. When I read that passage the first time, I had a vision of a referee (you) standing in a boxing ring (Alaska) with one opponent (the native and supportive constituents in one corner) and a salivating, nebulous blob (all the plunderers) in the other corner. The ref battles on with her formidable armament, the written word.

  2. That is rather like Kentucky and coal mines. My family’s farm, established in the 1780’s here in Western Kentucky, was taken by Peabody. They stripped the fertile soil. Tore down the beautiful home that grew from a log cabin to a two story beautiful farmhouse, painted white, chimneys on each end, and a porch running across the front. The family cemetery is no longer accessible, unless you call a train company and see when their bridge over the Green River is safe to walk across. A hundred or so acres, good for nothing anymore. John Prine sang about the area.

    • What an awful story, Kathryn. I don’t know much about Kentucky other than horse races and coal mines. Here in Alaska we are solely a resource extraction state. We pull stuff out, of the ground and of the water. We have no other significant industry (excepting the federal government, in part because we the people own the majority of it) (and tourism, but that isn’t year-round and it sure isn’t as low impact as some people would have you think). Witness the current ongoing hoorah about the Willow project–to pull the oil out or not to? Some Alaska Natives (the majority of the people who live there) are for it because oil company taxes will support their villages; others are not because they fear what development and production will do to their traditional hunting and fishing grounds. It’s difficult not to feel sympathy for both sides. No easy answers anywhere.

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