Over the last few years, Alaska has become a hotbed for exploration and production of a number of natural resources that include oil, gas, gold and copper.
But if you know anything about Alaska, the combination of weather, terrain and lack of infrastructure can pose major challenges to even the most experienced energy and mining players.
Today, that’s all starting to change.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell just announced plans for a $50+ million boost to help unlock Alaska’s vast resources.
These funds will help the state undergo a significant transformation – one that will give companies easier access to and from some of the remotest regions in the state – potentially opening up more petroleum and mining opportunities.
According to Parnell, “Responsible resource development is the key to Alaska’s economic future. Alaska has an abundance of oil, gas, timber, and other natural resources. Turning oil production around and filling the pipeline serves two important purposes: Providing economic opportunities for Alaskans, and helping secure energy independence for our nation.”
$28.5 million of funding will be used for the state’s Roads to Resources program.
This includes funding for access to the Ambler Mining District, Umiat-Foothills West, a western access route through Tanana, the Klondike Industrial Use Highway, and other resource roads. The funding will be used for project definition, permitting, environmental work, and right-of-way acquisition.
Parnell’s budget also includes $3.3 million for streamlining the permitting process in Alaska.
$2.7 million will be used for a three-year project to continue assessing Alaska’ rare earth element and critical minerals potential. The area around Bokan Mountain in Southeast Alaska is potentially one of the largest REE deposits in North America, and there are more than 150 known mineral occurrences across the state.
$1.1 million of the budget would provide a geologic assessment of shale oil on the North Slope and other areas of Alaska.
And finally, the Governor would also like to see $15.9 million spent on a statewide digital mapping program. The Digital Elevation model is foundational to all infrastructure development. The governor said United States Geological Survey topographic maps are more than 50 years old, inaccurate, and do not meet national mapping standards.
It must be noted however, that the $50 million dollars is on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars the Alaskan government already spends every year through the Department of Natural Resources.
Although $50 million is not a huge amount, when combined with the funding already in place, the effects could be huge and further boost an already booming region.
Keep your eyes on Alaska.
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