News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Bishop
For Immediate Release: March 26, 2020

Legislature Reforms Alaska’s Mining Policies

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JUNEAU – The Alaska Legislature today passed a bill reforming the state’s mining policies.

“This bill improves certainty for Alaska’s miners,” said Senator Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, the bill’s sponsor. “No longer do they have to live with uncertainty that their livelihoods will be taken away without due process. This bill provides clear statutory law on how a miner can cure an honest clerical mistake on their statement of facts.” 

As the nation prepares for the economy of tomorrow – which will feature integrated electrical grids, electric cars, smart phones, smart homes, etc. – Americans will need conductors, including gold; rare earth elements like dysprosium, used to improve the durability of magnets in electric vehicle motors; and critical minerals, like graphite, used in electrodes and batteries. 

“Mining is Alaska’s past, present, and, most importantly, its future,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, a co-sponsor of the bill. “The raw materials are right here, and they present a tremendous opportunity.” 

The legislation supports efforts by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski to focus on mineral security, an issue that has become increasingly important with a hostile China – the world’s largest producer of rare earth elements.

“No doubt about it, mining will play an important part of the United States’ national security,” said Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole, a co-sponsor of the bill. “This law gives clarity of process for this important industry.”

Senate Bill 155 addresses several issues that have arisen over the years for Alaska miners. Ideas for the bill’s improvements came from individual miners, the Alaska Miners Association’s (AMA) working group, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).   

The legislation:

  • Clarifies qualifications for exploration and mining rights;
  • Improves the legal process for miners;
  • Makes it easier to locate interest in Alaska lands;
  • Allows miners to correct mineral interest locations;
  • Establishes a better procedure for statements of annual labor;
  • Outlines a “due process” procedure for declaring mining claims invalid; and
  • Requires express permission from unpatented federal mining claim holders on state selected lands.

SB 155 passed the Senate 16-0 and the House 33-1, for a combined vote of 49-1. The bill is now on its way to Governor Mike Dunleavy’s desk for his signature.

For more information, contact Senate Majority Counsel Chad Hutchison at (907) 465-3803.

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