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Rhoads, E.M., 1986

The mining frontier and transportation in the north: Analogies to Alaska

Bibliographic Reference

Rhoads, E.M., 1986, The mining frontier and transportation in the north: Analogies to Alaska: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ph.D. dissertation, 365 p., illust., maps (some folded).


This study identifies and analyzes the most important variables which have influenced the development of mineral resources in the Circumpolar North. The purpose is to determine, based on analogies, those variables most likely to be critical in the future development of Alaska's rich mineral resources. The factors most essential for any mineral development are: the location of viable deposits, demand for minerals, favorable governmental policies, available technology, transportation, sources of energy, investment capital, and economic or social or political benefits which exceed costs. These factors are discussed in terms of historical experiences in the Circumpolar North, a region in which there has been a steady movement northward of a frontier based on mining. This mining frontier has virtually disappeared in the paternalistic and export-oriented economies of the Nordic states. It has advanced substantially in the Soviet North under the centrally planned and largely self-sufficient economy of the USSR. In the relatively laissez-faire policies and market economies of North America, the mining frontier is not as far advanced. In Alaska, post World War II economic development has been fueled by defense construction and petroleum related activities, while federal and state policies towards land-use restrict mineral development. In Northern Canada, government policies encouraged an acceleration in mineral development. From analyzing experiences elsewhere in the North, the study concludes that the major critical variables for mineral development must be favorable simultaneously. These variables must be synchronized in time, but this has not always been the case in Alaska. This study highlights those policies which could facilitate the development of a much stronger mineral industry in Alaska, one which could contribute significantly to the national mineral base, to foreign trade, and to Alaska's economic development.

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