123rf.com Stock Photo

123rf.com Stock Photo

New finds at Greens Creek promise to extend mine’s life

Exploration work at Greens Creek Mine has yielded results that could extend the mine’s life, it announced this week in a press release.

Greens Creek wrapped up its 2017 exploration work and reported finding more minerals than it mined last year, making Greens Creek officials optimistic the mine can stay open past its 10-year timeline.

“The exploration results that we released are extremely encouraging as we continue to find more material adjacent to and within our existing ore bodies,” said Mike Satre, spokesman for Hecla Greens Creek Mining Co.

The 839,589 tons of rock processed at Greens Creek last year contained 10.8 million ounces of silver, 78,245 ounces of gold, 60,858 tons of zinc and 22,870 tons of lead — a lot to take out of the ground. But the material Greens Creek mined was offset by new finds next to and between areas already mined. In other words, Greens Creek actually came out of 2017 with more silver, gold, zinc and lead left to mine than they went into the year with.

“We were actually able to replace silver, gold and lead reserves across the board,” Satre said.

How much more? Silver, gold, zinc, and lead reserves increased by 2, 8, 7 and 4 percent, respectively.

Greens Creek spends millions of dollars a year on mineral exploration. They have to prove there’re minerals in the ground before they can apply for permits to extend the mine’s “life,” or the duration they expect the ore body to continue yielding a profit.

They do this is by drilling holes in the rock and assessing mineral samples, sometimes between areas already mined and sometimes in new areas. Those amples are used to prove — to varying degrees — what minerals exist in the ore body and in what abundance.

Greens Creek’s ore body is “incredibly complicated,” Satre said, so it’s hard to know how long the mine’s life may have been extended by the 2017 exploratory work. But the mine has had success with exploration in the past. After low metal prices ground production to a halt in 1993, accelerated exploratory drilling helped the mine reopen in 1996. Since reopening, newly discovered reserves have helped the mine extend its life several times.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kevin.gullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

People and dogs traverse the frozen surface Mendenhall Lake on Monday afternoon. Officials said going on to any part of Mendenhall Lake can open up serious risks for falling into the freezing waters. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Officials warn residents about the dangers of thin ice on Mendenhall Lake

Experts outline what to do in the situation that someone falls through ice

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)


2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.


3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

Most Read