Red Dog is a zinc and lead mine about 46 miles (74 km) inland from the Chukchi Sea coast and connected by road to an export terminal, about 62 miles (100 km) northwest of Kotzebue and 16 miles (26 km) southeast of Kivalina, Alaska. This metal sulfide mine is the second largest producer of zinc in the world and is a major source of revenue for Alaska Native corporations across the state.
In the mid-1950s, a local bush pilot and prospector named Bob Baker noticed red-stained creeks in the area. In 1968, a geologist from the U.S. Geological Survey sampled rocks and stream sediments in the region and called Red Dog Creek after Bob Baker’s dog. In 1975, the U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted a mineral examination of the Red Dog site. Interest in mining these deposits was expressed by both the NANA Regional Corporation Inc. which owns the land, and by the Cominco mining company which later became the Teck mining corporation. Active exploration of the site and adjacent area began in 1975 and the first claims were staked in 1978. In 1980, Cominco Alaska drilled 9 holes that totaled 915 meters to determine the size of the deposit. Geologic mapping was done in the region from 1977 to 1984. In 1986, the State of Alaska agreed to construct a shallow-water port on the Chukchi Sea and a road connecting the port to the mine site. Construction on the port, road, and open-pit mine began in 1987 and the first ore was processed by the mill in late 1989.
The ore from Red Dog is mined year-round and trucked 55 miles (89 km) to a storage facility on the Chukchi Sea coast. Shipments can only be made during four ice-free months, and the ore must be lightered to ships with small barges because of the shallow water. The ore is shipped to a metallurgical facility in Trail, British Columbia, and to Asia and Europe. The central pit is almost depleted, but in 2010 the mine began extracting ore from an adjacent pit that is expected to last until 2031. Read more here and here. Explore more of Red Dog Mine here: