Gold mining in Alaska, a state of the United States, has been a major industry and impetus for exploration and settlement since a few years after the United States acquired the territory from Russia. Russian explorers discovered placer gold in the Kenai River in 1848, but no gold was produced. Gold mining started in 1870 from placers southeast of Juneau, Alaska.
Gold is found and has been mined throughout Alaska; except in the vast swamps of the Yukon Flats, and along the North Slope between the Brooks Range and the Beaufort Sea. Areas near Fairbanks and Juneau, and Nome are responsible for most of Alaska’s historical and all current gold production. Nearly all of the large and many of the small placer gold mines currently operating in the US are in Alaska. Six modern large-scale hard rock mines operate in Alaska in 2008; four of those are gold-producing mines (an additional gold mine suspended production in late 2007). There are also some small-scale hard rock gold-mining operations. Alaska currently produces more gold (in 2015: 873,984 troy oz from hard rock mines, and 74,360 troy oz (five-year average) from placer deposits) than any state except Nevada. In 2015, gold worth $1.01 billion accounted for 37% of the mining wealth produced in Alaska. Zinc and lead, mainly from the Red Dog mine, accounted for 53%; silver, mainly from the Greens Creek mine, accounted for 8.5%; and coal accounted for 1.5%. Alaska produced a total of 40.3 million troy ounces of gold from 1880 through the end of 2007.