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  6.  | Operations Commence at Manh Choh Gold Mine

Operations Commence at Manh Choh Gold Mine

Sep 6, 2023 | Mining, News

A CAT 6030 shovel loads a 777 CAT 85-ton haul truck at Manh Choh mine.

Contango ORE

Operations have started at the Manh Choh gold mine near Tok. A commencement ceremony was held August 29 to mark the official start of activity.

Another Year Before Production

In attendance at the ceremony were Governor Mike Dunleavy, members of the Tetlin Tribal Council and Tribal Chief Michael Sam, and representatives of the companies developing the project, Kinross Gold Corporation and Contango ORE.

Manh Choh is located on Tetlin tribal lands. Texas-based Contango is a 30 percent partner in the joint venture, while a subsidiary of Ontario-based Kinross is 70 percent owner and manager. Kinross also operates Alaska’s largest gold mine, Fort Knox, on the outskirts of Fairbanks.

“The construction phase has been achieved on budget and on schedule,” says Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, president and CEO of Contango. “At this point, mining operations primarily consist of pre-stripping activities, with any ore encountered to be stockpiled for later transport by road haul trucks to the Fort Knox mill for processing.”

Although operations have begun, Manh Choh is not yet in the production phase, which is still a year away.

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Van Nieuwenhuyse explains, “Mill modification activities continue at the Fort Knox mill with an emphasis on completing outdoor activities before winter arrives. The project continues to be on track to achieve commercial production in [late] 2024.”

Manh Choh is expected to operate for more than four years, extracting at least 1.2 million ounces of recoverable gold.

Meanwhile, Contango has initiated surface drilling to explore at its 100-percent owned Lucky Shot project near Hatcher Pass. “We will complete as much surface drilling as we can safely accomplish from this single drill pad on top of Box Mountain before winter weather conditions shut us down,” Van Nieuwenhuyse says. “Future drilling of approximately 12,000 meters (39,000 feet) from underground at Lucky Shot is expected to be undertaken in 2024.”

Lucky Shot and the nearby Coleman and War Baby mines in the Willow Creek valley produced gold from the 1920s through the ‘40s.

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Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
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