By Leigh Armstrong 

With the anticipated reopening of the Minto Mine, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is looking for a repairs assessment and maintenance plan for the state-owned ore terminal. It wants the plan completed by Sept. 30.

In its request for proposals, which were due by June 18, AIDEA said it wants the contractor to start the planning work by July 1, at a cost of less than $20,000. 

The state agency wants the assessment to focus on what repairs are needed, as well as a five-year plan to keep the ore loader running properly. 

AIDEA wants a list of repairs for the existing equipment at the site — no replacement equipment, such as a new ore loader, which the municipality has advocated to ensure cleaner operations at the terminal.

London-based Pembridge Resources announced June 4 it was buying the shuttered Minto Mine, about 150 miles north of Whitehorse, for $20 million Canadian, with plans to get the copper-gold mine back into production by the end of this year.

Minto started producing in July 2007, employing about 300 people at its peak, delivering truckloads of concentrate to the ore terminal in Skagway. The mine closed late last year. 

With the mine sale to Pembridge, AIDEA has informed the municipality that ore loading at the dock would resume under the terms of the state agency’s lease of borough land at the site. The lease runs through 2023. 

The Skagway port commission has stated for the record that it would prefer for AIDEA to replace the ore loader at the dock. That would allow access under the dock for clean-up work of past minerals spills, followed by installation of a new containerized ore loading operation that would be cleaner.

“It seems that the ship loader is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about,” port commission chair Tom Cochran said at the May 24 commission meeting.

“The citizens of Skagway have clearly stated that they want remediation completed before any agreements are made, and the assembly and the port commission are in total agreement that the loader needs to go,” Mayor Andrew Cremata said. 

The municipality hopes to replace the loader with a new containerized system. The existing loader is obsolete and contributes heavily to contamination, Cremata said. 

Assemblymember Orion Hansen, who has pushed for more industry to come to Skagway, also has agreed the existing ore loader causes contaminants to spill into the basin.