Kotzebue confers about mining

Communities, residents and businesses from the Arctic gathered in Kotzebue April 13-15 at the National Park Service Heritage Center to discuss mining.

Mining is an important economic driver in the Northwest Arctic Borough, which is home to America's largest lead and zinc mine at Red Dog. This conference promoted sustainability within the Arctic regions and encouraged Arctic residents to maximize the economic opportunities that exist at the local level. The conference was sponsored by the Northwest Arctic Borough, Teck Alaska, NANA Regional Corp., Zazu Metals Corp., NovaGold Resources Inc. and Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corp.

The theme was Our People's Future in Mining / Ieupta Sivunbat Manifeaijikun, with the goal of Making Mining Our Own. The presentations were designed to enhance residents' and businesses' understanding of the mining opportunities, provide tools to prospect and explore lands and develop locally owned mining claims and partnerships through option agreements with companies. In addition, the conference had information on education and training opportunities as well as permitting considerations to ensure we care for our environment.

About 70 adults participated in the event, including borough staff, assembly and planning commission members, NANA board and staff members, Red Dog Mine staff, and representatives from the private mining industry including Teck, Nova Gold, Tintina and Zazu Metals Corp. In addition, an estimated 100 youth from the Kotzebue elementary, middle and high schools had presentations in their classrooms from guests visiting the conference. The Chukchi Campus UAF had offered one college credit (RD 193) for participation in all three days of the conference.

Overall, it was a great opportunity to build capacity and training for ongoing and future employment opportunities.

The Northwest Arctic Borough want to say taikuu to all the people that worked together to organize and host the conference, and the participants that took time to attend and learn - especially those from the villages that traveled into Kotzebue. The borough looks forward to hosting another mining conference in the future.

Ukallaysaaq T. Okleasik is the planning director of the Northwest Arctic Borough.

Article quoted from The Arctic Sounder by Ukallaysaaq T. Okleasik