State Grants $300K to UAF to Train Manh Choh Miners

Feb 23, 2023 | Education, Mining, News


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Before production begins at the Manh Choh gold mine near Tok by the end of next year, area residents will have opportunities to train for industry jobs, thanks to some state funding. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) is providing a $300,000 grant to the UAF Mining and Petroleum Training Service (MAPTS) to staff up the project.

Surface Skills

“We are excited about the new job opportunities that Manh Choh will provide Tok residents interested in working on the project,” says Meg Smith, human resources manager for Manh Choh. “We are already scheduling several job fairs for the week of March 21st in the surrounding communities.”

DOWLD funding provides unique Surface Mine Training necessary for employment at Manh Choh, designed as an open pit mine about 12 miles west of Tetlin, or 10 miles south of Tok. This training provides skills for entry-level surface mine jobs and the employability skills necessary to continue employment.

“Our department created a pilot project following Governor Mike Dunleavy’s tour of the Delta Mine Training Center last year,” says Acting Labor Commissioner Cathy Muñoz. “The pilot project will support the training of up to twenty-eight residents from the Tok area and bring high-paying jobs to the rural community. This is a win/win for all involved.”

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Construction at the mine site is scheduled for this year, and production is still on track for late 2024. The joint venture of Texas-based Contango ORE and Ontario-based Kinross Gold expects to operate for more than four years, extracting at least 1.2 million ounces of recoverable gold.

Ore will be trucked about 250 miles to the outskirts of Fairbanks for processing at Fort Knox, the largest producing gold mine in Alaska, also owned by Kinross. The developers tell locals to expect up to four trucks per hour. 

Fort Knox is already the largest single payer of Fairbanks North Star Borough property tax. Manh Choh is lined up to have a similar impact for the unorganized area encompassing Delta Junction, Tok, and Tetlin.

McKinley Research Group estimates the project will generate 500 direct jobs with an estimated annual direct payroll of $75 million. By comparison, 320 miners work at Pogo Mine, the underground gold mine near Delta Junction. The Native Village of Tetlin, which owns the surface and subsurface rights to the Manh Choh project, will earn mineral royalties once the mine is in operation.

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