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Little by little mining is making its way back into Ketchikan.
This week Ucore, the owner of the Bokan Mine that contains rare earth elements, announced it has selected Ketchikan for its first strategic metals complex.
The complex is a metals separation facility. Currently, China is dominant in such facilities, processing at least 90 percent of the world’s rare earth elements. Those elements are used in manufacturing of electronic technology, including that used by the military to protect the nation’s security.
The Bokan Mine is located southwest of Ketchikan on Prince of Wales Island.
Ketchikan was chosen for the facility because of its proximity to the mine, but also because it has a deepwater port, it has barge-container facilities, there is direct access to U.S. and Pacific Rim markets, local incentives are likely, and the state has approved a financing package for the mine and processing facilities’ development.
The state Legislature OK’d funding of up to $145 million through the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.
The political climate also lends itself to building the complex here. Ketchikan welcomes the industry, and Alaska’s congressional delegation looks favorably upon the mining project.
Another encouraging point is that President Donald Trump has shown support for development projects such as Bokan.
Ketchikan not only has a history in mining, but a future, too.