Mine workers make mammoth discovery

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) For the second time this year, workers at True North Mine have found what appear to be mammoth tusks.

The tusks were uncovered Tuesday in the loose, moist dirt of the mine's northcentral pit.

Shovel operator Bob Farra spotted and removed the tusks including one seemingly complete tusk and two smaller pieces, said Lorna Shaw, a spokeswoman for mine owner Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc.

Mine officials plan to offer the find to the University of Alaska Museum, home to mammoth tusks, skulls, femurs and lower jaws.

UA Museum Earth Sciences Curator Roland Gangloff could not be reached for comment Thursday. A complete mammoth skull currently is on display to museum visitors, staff said.

The True North mine is a satellite field northwest of Fort Knox. Ore is trucked about 12 miles from True North to the Fort Knox mill. Both are owned and operated by Fairbanks Gold Mining and are about 25 miles north of Fairbanks.

While employees are working in granite at the Fort Knox pit, the True North digging is taking place in more shallow, loose dirt. The tusks were found about 65 feet down in a layer of fine blue sediment and ice, immediately visible to workers during the normal course of mining, Shaw told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The largest find appears to be a complete tusk and is 113 inches long and 23 inches in circumference. Two smaller sections are 60 inches long with a circumference of 24 inches and 51 inches long with a circumference of 20 inches.

On Jan. 4, a True North heavy equipment operator uncovered three 3- to 4-foot sections of tusks. In early February, the tusks were reported missing. Trooper Joseph Hazelaar said the case is still under investigation.

While finds were made early in the mine's history at Fort Knox, nothing has been uncovered in recent years, Shaw said. Mining at True North began in 2001.



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