Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


From Noatak, we flew west with Bering Airlines to Teck Comico’s Red Dog Mine, a lead/zinc/silver mine is in the De Long Mountains, western Brooks Range, Alaska, about north of Kotzebue. approximately 90 miles north of Kotzebue, and 46 miles inland from the coast of the Chukchi Sea, and west of Noatak village. The mine has been operating continuously since its opening in 1989

Red Dog is the largest single zinc producer in the world. The property is owned by the Northwest Alaska Native Association (NANA) Regional Corporation and is leased to Teck Cominco Alaska Inc., which owns and operates the facilities. The mine is the sole taxpayer in the Northwest Arctic Borough and is the primary economic engine for northwest Alaska, as well as a major asset to the entire Alaska economy. Red Dog is an important component of the economy of Northwest Alaska. About 450 people are hired directly, with an additional 150 jobs created indirectly. A majority of the employees are NANA shareholders. The mine is served by 6,312 foot paved aircraft runway, with advanced navigational aids.

After removal from the ground, lead and zinc concentrates are transported 52 miles by road to port facilities on the Chukchi Sea by Arrow Transportation using specially designed trucks. The trucks haul 85 tons of concentrate in two side-dump trailers at an average of 50 loads/day year-round. At the port, two storage buildings are capable of storing 850,000 tons of concentrate from October to June. The sea at that latitude is only passable for shipping about 100 days per year.
The buildings are, in fact, the largest building in all of Alaska.

During the 100-day shipping season, Foss Maritime uses two barges to lighter the concentrates to vessels offshore, owing to shallow inshore waters. Barge-based Caterpillar 988 loaders unload the concentrates. About one-third of the concentrates are destined for Cominco’s trail smelter in British Columbia; the rest is divided between Far East and European customers.

We toured first the mill, where mineral laden rocks removed from the mine are crushed to a talcum like powder, and lead and silver concentrated. Major attention is given to environmental concerns, as well as employee safety. While touring the mill, we were required to don face masks to avoid ingestion of lead. Machinery, pipes, crushers, and mineral separators are everywhere. The mill looks to the uninitiated (like me) like a spaghetti factory. I had not before been in such a mill.

Legislators are generalists who must consider a multitude of issues. No one can be an expert on everything (more on that in a future blog). On site tours of facilities are a tremendous help to better understanding of issues that come before us for a vote.

After the mill tour, we drove 52 mile down and back from the mine to the shipping port on the Chukchi Sea. This is a private road over the treeless tundra in “the middle of nowhere” that very few get to traverse other than Red Dog employees. We saw wild caribou, and while we weren’t fortunate to see them, wild musk also roam beside the road. Photography is my hobby, so I snapped photos all the way!

Yesterday’s tour of the vocational school in Kotzebue, the village of Noatak, and then the Red Dog Mine was one of better tours in which I’ve been privileged to participate. It was worth getting up before 4 AM and returning to Anchorage near midnight.

The photos show the big Red Dog and NANA building sign, inside the mill, me with the safety mask (no, I’m not in disguise to hide from the authorities), a truck on the road to the port, and just a nice picture I took of the scenery from the road (I'm an avid amateur photographer).


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