ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Canadian tungsten mine 250 miles east of Whitehorse could restart after a 15-year closure, and officials of the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority are hoping the mine will use AIDEA's ore-loading facility in Skagway.
''We haven't heard from them yet, but we're hopeful,'' said John Wood, project manager for AIDEA.
The Skagway loading facility was used for lead, zinc and copper ore from the Anvil Range Mine in Faro, north of Whitehorse, until that mine shut down in February 1998. Railcars and then trucks were used to bring ore from Faro to Skagway, where it was loaded onto ships.
North American Tungsten Corp. Ltd. of Vancouver says it has more than half the roughly $5 million it needs to restart the CanTung mine in the Northwest Territories just across the Yukon's eastern border. Mining could start in the fourth quarter of this year, the company says.
Sandvik AB and Osram Sylvania Products Inc., two major producers of tungsten products, have committed $3 million toward reopening the mine in exchange for the right to purchase all the tungsten the mine will produce, at an undisclosed discount, according to North American Tungsten.
Tungsten is used as the glowing filament in light bulbs, as well as for alloys and other industrial uses.
Company spokesman Ron Shenton told the Whitehorse Star the agreement means the corporation will be ready to begin reopening the mine.
''We pretty much have it done, it just hasn't been announced yet,'' Shenton said. He said the rest of the money would come from equity financing.
The mine, which closed in 1986, would again become the largest tungsten producer in the western world, the company says.
It would ship out nearly 1,000 metric tons of ore daily over a three-year period, worth about $22 million a year. Such large volumes would likely be shipped by water or rail.
But the CanTung mine is still more than 300 miles from Skagway by road. A spur to the mine runs northeast from the Campbell Highway, which connects Watson Lake and Carmacks.
Shenton said the agreement with Sandvik and Osram Sylvania also gives the two companies exclusive rights to North American Tungsten's MacTung deposit, which is further north, also along the Yukon-Northwest Territories border. The CanTung and MacTung reserves make up about 15 percent of the world's proven reserves of the mineral, the company says.
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