2017 Mining History Association Tour

 

Tour of Sumitomo Metal Mining, Pogo Mine
Tour Leaders: Tom Bundtzen at the
Pogo Mine and Mill Staff
June 19, 2017

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In 1994, Tech-Cominco Corporation discovered a rich hard rock gold deposit about 85 miles southeast of Fairbanks and 38 miles northwest of Delta Junction.  It was placed in production in 2005 by Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo LLC and is currently one of Alaska’s largest gold mines (the largest in some years). In September 2015 it poured its 3 millionth troy ounce of gold.  Pogo is a high-grade gold mine with the ore containing about ˝ of a Troy ounce per ton.  Gold ore at Pogo is mined with modern underground mining methods and processed in a mill with a unique flowsheet.

The mill processes 3500 tons per day.  Pogo disposes of its sulfide tailings underground as paste pumped cemented backfill.  Non-sulfide tailings are dewatered and dry stacked at a surface facility.  This approach minimizes the risk of acid rock drainage.  A state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system has been deployed.  Mine access is via the company’s 56 mile-long road from the Richardson Highway.  Exploration programs continue to identify new ore reserves.  It is truly a mine worth seeing.  For those who can’t visit in person, the Pogo website offers more information and several excellent videos.

(Above) Heading for the Pogo Mine from Fairbanks, the Richardson Highway heads southeast following the Tanana River.  Mt. Hayes is the tallest peak in this part of the Alaska Range.

 

(Right) Tour Leader, Tom Bundtzen (brown jacket) explains the regional geology as we begin our 56 mile drive up the Pogo Mine road.  The mine is located in the Tintina Gold Belt which forms an arc stretching from southwest Alaska to the Yukon and British Columbia. A number of significant gold deposits and mines in the belt include Donlin Creek, True North, Ft. Knox, Pogo, and Dublin Gold.



 

A view of one part the Pogo Mine complex. About 500 people are employed at Pogo including about 200 contractors.  The employees work a variety of multi-day shift schedules.  Dormitory-style housing (left) provides accommodations for those staying for several days at a time.


As we enter the Mine Office and Administration Building, we are reminded that safety is the number one concern.  General Manager Chris Kennedy welcomed the MHAers. Outside, the vehicles for our tour are lined up and ready to go.


Paul Bartos, Karen Jass, and Keith Adamski enjoy a tasty lunch at the Pogo dining room

 

Linda and Terry Reynolds, and Tom Bundtzen are ready for the mine safety briefing.

Mike and Pat Kaas and all the MHAers were outfitted with standard mine safety equipment including hard hat, cap lamp, safety glasses, reflective vests, self rescuers, and safety boots.

 

This enlarged view of the mine map shows the use of spiral ramps to access the 5 different gold bearing vein systems on many levels and in several areas of the mine property. There are currently nearly 90 miles of roadways extending more than 1600 feet below the surface.  We entered the mine at the 1875 Portal shown at the upper center portion of the map.

 

MANY THANKS TO SUMITOMO MINING AND
THE POGO MINE STAFF FOR THEIR EXCELLENT TOUR AND
FOR BEING A SPONSOR OF THE FAIRBANKS MHA CONFERENCE


Photos by Mark and Lynn Langenfeld and Mike and Pat Kaas

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