1.96 million tons. Current customers are
Fort Wainwright (operated by Doyon), Ei-elson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Station, the University of Alaska Fairbanks
campus, Aurora Energy LLC (a wholesaler to Golden Valley Electric Association
(GVEA)), and Healy Plant No. 1.
This year also marks the launch of the
GVEA Healy No. 2 Power Plant, formerly
known as the Healy Clean Coal Power
Project, also supporting the Railbelt power grid. Healy #1 and #2 plants are owned
by GVEA. It’s anticipated Healy #2 will
start burning coal in late summer of 2015.
Thereafter a slow build up to its full potential will occur, with consumption between
300,000 and 350,000 tons of coal per year.
Fifty megawatts is the expected electricity generation of the plant (compared to
Healy #1 at twenty-five megawatts).
Per a McDowell Group January 2015
report, Usibelli coal accounted for 29 per-
cent of GVEA’s power supply, the remain-
der being oil, wind, hydro, and electric-
ity. The report, based on earlier research,
concludes “the absence of coal, holding
demand constant, could increase energy
costs an estimated $200 million annually.”
Usibelli’s Vice President of Customer
Relations Bill Brophy says Usibelli has
115 employees. Impressively, the average
time of service is twelve years; the average
age is forty-five years old and of the UCM
staff, 36 percent are second, third, or
fourth generation Alaskan miners. Emil
Usibelli’s son Joe Usibelli led the compa-
ny from 1964 to 1987 and is currently the
chairman of the board. Joe Usibelli Jr. has
been in charge and leading the company
since 1987 and still resides and works in
Healy with his wife and daughter.
As of this year, Usibelli remains the
only operating coal mine in Alaska. Usi-
belli Coal mine also has Wishbone Hill as
a mining unit, with secured permits and
leases in progress, and anticipates begin-
ning development in coming years. Ap-
proximately three hundred exploration
holes have been drilled since the early
1980s per Usibelli’s website, along with
thirty years of environmental baseline
data, and it is considered a relatively small
deposit of coal at just 14 million tons com-
pared to the 500 million tons identified at
Healy. Usibelli’s background information
highlights that “Wishbone Hill coal is
particularly valuable because it is the only
bituminous coal deposit on the road sys-
tem.” Bituminous coal is primarily used
for generating electricity and has mois-
ture content of less than 20 percent.
Bright Mining Future
Alaska’s annual state budget, fiscal dimensions, and municipal infrastructures have all been built on the basis of a
thriving resource development market.
Beyond the tiers of analysis and permitting required, once the six producing
mines and the scattered advanced exploration projects pass various government
hurdles, speculation remains that the next
five years could be huge for expansive
mineral industry developments statewide.
“Even during a challenging fiscal time
like the state is facing this year, our resource industry is working diligently to
develop and maintain business which
adds jobs and prosperity to our economy,” adds Brophy. “In Usibelli’s case,
we’re proud of our long standing heritage in Alaska and progress in 2015 continues that legacy.” R
Tom Anderson writes from across
Fort Knox Stewardship in Action The way we see things, stewardship extends well beyond protecting land and water. It’s also about taking care of our people.
That’s why we invest in advanced training,
Fort Knox places high value in community stewardship. We
buy locally, hire locally and we’re active in charitable giving, and
our people volunteer in many civic and community groups.
And, as far as protecting the land and water, our record
stands on its own.
At Fort Knox, responsible stewardship is
part of how we do business every day.
Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc.
A Kinross company