2017 Mining History Association Tour

 

Tour of the Kinross Fort Knox Mine
Tour Hosts: Tom Bundtzen and the
Fort Knox Mine Staff
June 18, 2017

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  The Fort Knox Mine of Kinross Gold Corporation is located about 25 miles north of the city of Fairbanks.  The Kinross property lies in a belt of historic placer and lode gold deposits.  The Fairbanks Mining District has been one of the largest gold producing areas in Alaska with cumulative production of over 8 million ounces.  In addition to the Fort Knox, Kinross owns the True North Mine (closed in 2004) and the Gil deposit located nearby.

  Felix Pedro discovered placer gold in the area in 1902.  Early lode mine claims were staked in the area in 1913 but were dormant for decades.  From 1987-1991 several small companies did exploration in the area.  In 1992, Amax Gold, Inc. purchased the Fort Knox Project and formed Fairbanks Gold Mining, Inc.  In 1998, Kinross acquired Amax.  Mine construction was completed in 1997 with production commencing that year.  The valley fill heap leaching facility was begun in 2009 and doubled in capacity in 2013.  Production at Fort Knox from 1997 through 2014 has been 6.3 million ounces.


On July 22, 1902, Italian emigrant, Felix Pedro (Felice Pedroni), discovered the first gold in the Fairbanks District in a creek opposite this monument on the Steese Highway.

The MHAers receive a briefing on the geology of the Fairbanks District from Tom Bundtzen (sitting).

 


Elna and Dick Houck, Steve Hart, and Wendy Carter relax over lunch at the Pedro Monument roadside park.


Looks like nobody warned Australians Brian Hill and Rhonda Matthews that they might have lunch guests in Alaskan Bear Country.

Arriving at the Fort Knox Mine and Mill complex reminded everyone that large-scale modern mining is nothing like that experienced by the prospectors and small miners of the past.

 


The mine maintenance shops service the extensive fleet of mobile equipment used throughout the mine.


The Fort Knox Mine is approximately of a mile long and mile across.  It produces about 60,000 tons per day, including ore and waste.


Mark Huffington, our Kinross Guide, explains the mining, milling, and heap leaching processes.


Seven Atlas Copco drilling rigs are kept busy preparing patterns of holes for explosives. The cuttings from each hole are samples and assayed before blasting.

Four Hitachi hydraulic loaders fill the CAT haul trucks.  A GPS-based, computerized pit dispatching system uses the assay data to tell the loader operator where to dig and the truck drivers exactly where to take the ore, to the mill, stockpile, or leach area, or the waste rock to a mine dump.

Photos courtesy of Mike and Pat Kaas

MANY THANKS TO KINROSS MINING AND
THE FORT KNOX MINE STAFF FOR THEIR EXCELLENT TOUR AND
FOR BEING A SPONSOR OF THE FAIRBANKS MHA CONFERENCE

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