A gold mining company has acquired mineral rights to land in Alaska north of Fairbanks that is believed to contain millions of ounces of gold.
Kinross Gold Corp. acquired the mineral rights Monday on the more than 1-square-mile (2.6-square-kilometer) parcel after the U.S. government transferred the land to the state of Alaska, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .
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Kinross Fort Knox Vice President and General Manager Eric Hill said the company's state mining claims could not be used when the federal government controlled the land.
The land was previously a buffer for radio interference around an array of weather satellite receivers. But in 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it no longer needed the buffer.
The land is west of the company's Fort Knox Gold Mine and is estimated to contain 2.1 million ounces (59,500 kilograms) of gold.
The estimate comes from drilling the company has done on the land since 2014.
"It's too early to tell what (the land) means to us in the long-term," Hill said. "It has the potential to expand mine life."
The company plans to begin the permitting process before the end of 2017 and release a feasibility update in mid-2018.
Hill said the land's true potential will be unknown until after the feasibility study.
The company produced more than 400,000 ounces (11,300 kilograms) of gold in both 2015 and 2016.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com