Sen. Murkowski visits Pilgrim Hot Springs, Graphite One site
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski toured Graphite One’s exploratory drill site in the Kigluaik Mountains during a short visit to the region on Saturday.
Murkowski has voiced support for the company, which is developing a plan for an open-pit graphite mine and is still in its exploration phase. The senator posted a video to Instagram in which she holds a dark gray cylinder of graphite that had been freshly drilled from the site.
“This is an opportunity for us in this country to be producing graphite domestically,” said Murkowski, clad in a neon yellow vest and a hard hat while a light rain fell. “If we’re going to talk electric vehicles, if we’re going to talk the contents of your cell phone, you’re going to want graphite, and you’re going to want American graphite, and why not Alaskan graphite? We all need to learn more about the significance of these critical minerals. They’re important to our country, important to our economy, and really important to our future.”
Kawerak President Melanie Bahnke accompanied Murkowski and her staffers on the visit. They also toured Pilgrim Hot Springs.
Graphite has not been produced in the U.S. since the 1950s. But in recent years, the U.S. has introduced several new industrial policies and funding programs to entice corporations to domestically produce cobalt, zinc, nickel, graphite and other minerals that are expected to be in demand during the energy transition.
During its latest field campaign this summer, Graphite One continues to drill cores to better define the resource. Company officials recently said at a public meeting in Nome that they will need to develop a much bigger mine than originally proposed in order to attract investors.
The work the company is doing now is in service of a feasibility study and will also contribute to the environmental permit applications that would need to be submitted before any mining operations begin.