Senator Donny Olson discusses SB 203 and Graphite One
Alaska Senator Donny Olson of Golovin was in Nome for a town meeting last Friday and made himself available for an interview with The Nome Nugget. As representatives of Canadian mining concern Graphite One had just visited Brevig Mission and Teller the interview focused on Graphite One and the company’s plans to mine the graphite near Imuruk Basin.
“Graphite One is a company I didn’t become really aware of until fairly recently when they approached me about some of the graphite deposits that are up here northwest of Nome, southeast of Teller,” said Senator Olson. “They said they were interested in seeing if it’s economically possible for them to extract that resource and put it on the market. There are no graphite reserves here in the USA and all the graphite that’s being used industrially and militarily has to come in from other overseas deposits. Mainly in China.”
Graphite is a crystalline allotrope of carbon. It is a semimetal and a form of coal. As it is the most stable form of carbon under standard conditions it is used in thermochemistry as the standard state for defining the heat of formation of carbon compounds.
Graphite occurs in metamorphic rock, igneous rock and meteorites. Quartz, calcite, micas, and tourmaline are associated with graphite.
World production of natural graphite in 2016 was 1,200,000 tons. Major exporters were China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and North Korea. At this time it is not mined in the USA.
“They hired a lobbyist down in Juneau so they could get some money from AIDEA, which gives out loans to corporate interests, which are interested in developing some kind of business model here,” said Senator Olson. “They do not loan money to any kind of enterprise that does not have local affirmation, participation, or some type of local support. Which is one of those things, which is very important because the people who are affected are the people I represent. They are the people who put me into office. Up until I was asked to put Senate Bill 203 on the docket I’d not heard anything negative about it and everything seem to be positive and that’s why I put that bill as a way for them to get funding from AIDEA.”
Senator Olson’s SB 203 would authorize AIDEA, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, to issue bonds to finance the infrastructure and construction costs of the Graphite Creek Project on the Seward Peninsula. The principle amount of the bonds may not exceed $80 million.
“In 2016 the US needed 39,500 metric tons of natural graphite,” reads the bill. “Significantly, Tesla’s new lithium battery Giga-factory, located in Nevada, is scheduled for production in late 2018 or early 2019. This factory alone will require 93,000 tons per year of flake graphite.”
“A proposed processing plant at Graphite Creek would annually produce 60,000 metric tons of graphite concentrates. A 2017 study shows that the Graphite Creek Project has the potential to produce a significant portion of projected domestic demand for graphite in the US for decades.”
According to Senator Olson the failed Rock Creek mine was brought up at Friday’s constituent meeting.
“They were decrying the bad management, the bad progress, the whole idea was it was a venture that was ill-advised even at the time and certainly it’s played out as not the best thing for the local area,” said Senator Olson.
Senator Olson reports Graphite One has been getting a less than enthusiastic reception in Brevig Mission and Teller. While some people support the proposed mine there are others who are adamantly opposed.
Port Clarence is a possible site for shipping the graphite concentrate out. But now they are looking at Nome as well said Senator Olson.
“There would have to be some improvements in the Nome-Teller Highway,” he said.