Comment Letter on Senate Bill 155 to House Finance Committee

March 20, 2020 

The Honorable Jennifer Johnston, Co-Chair
The Honorable Neal Foster, Co-Chair
House Finance Committee
Alaska State Legislature
Submitted via [email protected]

Re: Support for Senate Bill 155, an Act related to exploration and mining rights

Dear Co-Chairs Johnston and Foster, and members of the House Finance Committee:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing in support of Senate Bill 155 (SB155), an Act relating to exploration and mining rights; relating to annual labor requirements with respect to mining claims and related leases; relating to statements of annual labor; defining 'labor'; and providing for an effective date.

RDC is a statewide trade association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

It is a policy of RDC to advocate for policy that enhances the State of Alaska’s competitiveness for all industries to attract new investment and grow the economy. RDC applauds the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for its efforts on SB155.

SB155 has been reviewed and developed with significant input from many stakeholders, including the State of Alaska and the mining industry. This legislation will resolve issues that arise due to vague laws and regulations regarding requirements to maintaining mining claims.  It will clarify mining claims from being wrongly returned to the State or a competing claimant by minor mistakes or clerical errors on forms and will clarify different interpretations of the law.

Among many issues it addresses, it places labor affidavit requirements clearly in statute, provides more certainty to state claims conversion, updates lists of qualifying work to further claims, and clarifies cash payments can be made for no more than five consecutive years, ensuring an attempt is made to develop the claim. Most importantly, this legislation provides DNR the authority to send a notice of an opportunity to correct clerical errors prior to receiving notices of abandonment. Lastly, SB155 does not impose any burden on DNR, and it does not regulate the environmental aspects of mining.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment in support of SB155.