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Kinross Fort Knox and Sumitomo Pogo Mine Announce Mining Match to Complete Capital Campaign

Fairbanks, Alaska – With less than one percent—or $175,000—to raise to complete the exhibits at the Morris Thompson Center, two Interior Alaska gold mining companies—Kinross Fort Knox and Sumitomo Pogo Mine—announced today that they will join together to match, dollar for dollar, every gift to the Center until the goal is reached.

The majority of the exhibits opened in 2009, however one section was put on hold until funding was secured. The $175,000 still needed will complete the final section of our exhibits, dubbed the “Gateway” which is scheduled to be completed by the end of June. This new section will focus on the visitor to Alaska – helping them experience how we live and what we do. It is intended to inspire them to fully explore Interior Alaska.

“The exhibits tell the story of life in Interior Alaska, and mining is a part of that story,” said Sumitomo Pogo Mine External Affairs Manager Lorna Shaw. “Alaskans depend on the land for every part of our lives – hiking, fishing, camping, playing on our snowmachines – and making a living."

The responsible operating plan for the Center also played a part in the mine’s decision to get behind the effort. Shaw said, “At the mine, the long-term plan for sustaining the land—or reclamation—is a key priority. So when we saw that the Center had a plan for sustainable operations, it got our attention. A project that’s great for our community, with a long-term sustainable operating plan, is exactly the type of project we want to support.”

It was the late Senator Ted Stevens who first challenged the project partners to show how they could afford to operate the building once it was built. “The Senator always told us that we shouldn’t rely on state or federal funds to operate,” said Executive Director Cindy Schumaker. “With three years under our belt, we’re doing it.”

A Leadership Team made up of 28 volunteers from across Alaska was committed to raising funds to complete the building with zero debt, which is what makes operating costs affordable to the lease-holding partners. Currently, the total raised for the MTCVC project is $29.2 million. Construction of the MTCVC facility and Phase I of the exhibits was funded with a combination of federal ($16.7M), state ($7.6M), and private ($4.6M) funds. The project required a small line of credit during the construction phase, but that has been paid off and the Center is now debt free.

Kinross Fort Knox and Sumitomo Pogo Mine give heavily to education and youth programs, including their recent pledges of $1 million each to UAF School of Mining Engineering. Both gold mines had teams in the Heart Walk last weekend, and participate in the annual United Way campaign.

Incorporated in 2004 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center is a partnership between the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs, Alaska Geographic, and Denakkanaaga, an Alaska Native Elders’ organization. Through exhibits and programs, the new 32,720 square foot multi-use facility’s mission is to 1) celebrate Interior Alaska’s people, land and culture, 2) promote economic development via tourism, with an emphasis in rural Alaska, and 3) to be a community gathering place, where diverse cultures come together to understand, appreciate, and respect one another. The Center is open 7 days a week year round, 8am-5pm in the winter, and 8am-9pm in the summer and serves and average of 100,000 people annually. For more information, visit www.morristhompsoncenter.org.

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